Downing: Generation Blubber — good times create weak men



As the remnants of the Greatest Generation fade into the annals of history and Baby Boomers grapple with a transforming economy sucking their fixed incomes dry, the fate of America lies in the hands of the younger generations — the Gen Xers and Millennials who will lead, and the younger generations behind them who we would hope will be patriotic enough to deter the enemies of freedom.

The state of the nation, and indeed our world, is fraught with uncertainty as geopolitical tensions rise in Ukraine, Russia, Israel, and the Middle East in general, and as internal challenges grow.

While the external threats are well-documented, an internal crisis is taking hold: the poor physical and mental health of our youth.

Enter “Generation Blubber” – a label that may sound mocking, but the reality it describes is far from a jest. It’s epidemic.

Fat is so fashionable that we celebrate Fat Bear Week, and fat models who cannot see their toes. Commercials celebrate this epidemic in America by pretending that folds upon folds of adipose tissue is normal and even desirable.

The CDC paints a startling picture: One in three young Americans, between the ages of 17 and 24, are too obese to serve in the military. Some 20% of all children are categorized as obese by the Centers for Disease Control. Never before in documented history have we witnessed a generation so physically compromised by their own excesses.

But the challenges are not solely physical. The mental health crisis gripping this generation is perhaps even more concerning. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services suggests that nearly 50% of our nation’s adolescents have had a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

The mental disorders are evident in the rising number of youths who believe they were born in the wrong body or assigned the wrong gender. These figures don’t merely indicate personal struggles; they highlight a broader societal shift backward in the acceptance of actual science.

The concern is twofold: Not only are the youth facing internal battles with physical and mental health, they are set against an external backdrop of a world in chaos. From ongoing wars to the unmet recruiting goals of our military, it’s a combination that might render America vulnerable in the eyes of our adversaries.

Historically, this isn’t the first time alarm bells have been sounded over the physical condition of American youth. Following WWII, the advent of mechanization and automation prompted a decrease in physically intensive work. This shift was so pronounced that President Dwight D. Eisenhower felt compelled to establish the President’s Council on Youth Fitness in 1956.

President Kennedy continued this push, noting in his article, “The Soft American,” the comparative physical decline of American youth against their European counterparts. 

“The first indication of a decline in the physical strength and ability of young Americans became apparent among United States soldiers in the early stages of the Korean War,” Kennedy wrote. “The second came when figures were released showing that almost one out of every two young Americans was being rejected by Selective Service as mentally, morally or physically unfit.”

But the most startling demonstration of the general physical decline of American youth, Kennedy wrote, came with a 15-year study at the Posture Clinic of New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. 

“The findings showed that despite our unparalleled standard of living, despite our good food and our many playgrounds, despite our emphasis on school athletics, American youth lagged far behind Europeans in physical fitness. Six tests for muscular strength and flexibility were given; 57.9% of the American children failed one or more of these tests, while only 8.7% of the European youngsters failed,” Kennedy wrote.

The digital age has further exacerbated it. The combination of an automated workforce and the seductive pull of screen-based entertainment means today’s youth lead increasingly sedentary lives.

Yet, the military’s response has been puzzling. Instead of emphasizing the need for fitness, the standards have been lowered and waivers introduced. This isn’t just a concern for the military; it’s a concern for the nation’s overall health and resilience.

The cyclical nature of societal strength, as outlined by G. Michael Hopf, is particularly apt: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” 

As we enter the “weak men create hard times” phase, it’s crucial to reflect on how we reached here and how we can pivot for the better.

Our nation’s leaders must recognize and address the intertwined challenges of physical and mental health and make a hard turn before hard times set in. While we cannot halt the march of progress and automation, we can invest and ensure our youth are equipped – mentally, physically, and emotionally – to lead, to defend, to protect, and to restore our nation as a mighty beacon of freedom. 

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.


      • Perhaps it has little to do with our “leaders”
        More to do with family leaders – parenting and teachers. Who educate children and oversee them.
        Perhaps even our voters who allow lobbyists to tell our politicians how to vote could be blamed more than presidents/ leaders who really don’t control society.

      • Generation blubberers blubbering. The law forbids feeding wildlife because it makes them weak and dependent, unable to fend for themselves. This is natural law, not the biblical/Lenin edict that those who do not work shall not eat. We now see this extended to the peak species of the food chain. Not like it has not happened before, to the Romans and many others throughout history. Weak men create hard times, and we can only hope for enough sourdoughs and rednecks out there to allow our descendants to speak English.

  1. Very good topic., 12 year olds coming in at 250 lbs plus, PE teachers that can’t get kids to run for 5 minutes, a lot different than going to high school in the mid 70s in Seward when we ran 45 minutes, sweat poring off in the next class, intramural sports at noon, basketball practice at night.
    I know I can beat most 20 year olds in the Mt Marathon race though I’m 63.
    Todays kid are afraid of labor at the work place, always vying for white collar jobs, weak, prior generations would be ashamed.
    Proud of the few who stay in shape and have a good work ethic.

  2. Thank you Suzanne, a very good article. I am constantly shocked at the overweight and out of shape condition of our youth.

  3. Preach it sister.

    Marxism is not healthy for small animals (tend to get eaten in the famine times) and other living things (which can not thrive).

  4. Yes, we are surrounded by flabbiness. Our nation’s borders are a sieve, the economy is a Potemkin village of debt, our military has become ‘woke’ and unable to recruit its goal of soldiers and sailors, thieves and looters wreak havoc with seeming impunity, a million people across the nation live in tents, and the public schools and universities are in steep decline. Not coincidentally, over my long lifetime there has never been a more pathetic and pathological occupant of the Oval Office, although there have been several close contenders.

    Are hard times coming? The only things left to debate are how suddenly and when the great unraveling will take place.

  5. I have a nephew who is 5’9” and almost square. He has major boobs.

    He doesn’t go out, he doesn’t interact with people, and had never seen someone do manual labor before I helped rebuild their fence. He is scared of power tools.

    But he does know how to use the microwave. Not an oven, a microwave.

    We are so screwed as a society.

    • There’s something to be said for a major rack, Ma. Not on a nephew though.

      Have you considered teaching him how a stove works? Might as well go for the over-square record, eh?

      Every generation has always said derogatory things about the one set to enter the work force. Where the military is concerned it doesn’t matter as the next version of retaliatory action can be digital, more destructive and less invasive. That’s the spiritual home of the slovenly World of Warcraft fat kid. The US goes from one calamity to the next and always needs another emergency to feign concern over. None of the news’ predictions have proven accurate and that includes your poorly considered “screwed as a society” remark. Everything’s going to be ok just don’t you worry your pretty little head.

  6. Indulgence happens when a people are experiencing a period of plenty. Generations get comfortable. America hasn’t lived through something like the nineteen thirties till the end of WW2 when Americans lived under frugality and poverty. It takes as long to get trim as it did to add the extra weight. Weight loss takes patience, commitment, and self control.The body keeps us balenced. Unless medication made one balloon up, no one gets fatter overnight, its a slow gradual process like getting thinner is a slow process cause your body will fight against the changes when one is eating lesser than what amount of food is necessary for the body to maintain your present weight whether it’s 160 or 300. I learned from a dietician your serving should be no more than the size of your palm. Small palm and your stomach has a smaller need, so don’t force the youngest children to eat more when they have little palms, same thing with our pet dogs and cats, it has even a smaller paw and they are typically grazing animals. And Its okay to order one restaurant meal and split it between two sharing adults or one parent and a child. The only one who’d dislike adults and children learning to agree, split, and share restaurant meals is the business owner cause he’ll make less money. But, I see mental health of Americans would improve a bit better if adults were encouraged to take a friend out just so the two can have a nice meal and split the calories.

    By the way, this another nice article. I could read Downings humor, compassion, and tact through it.

  7. General Patton…! Where are you. We are going to need you in the Pentagon, the Attorney General’s office and the class room. Trump can’t do it alone.

  8. Spot on and a bit tragic. So, do we have hope that these hard times might produce strong men? I don’t think we have hit hardest times yet.

  9. Our national and local state leaders can try to get Americans in shape- including one another with as little success as Michelle Obama’s America’s Let’s Move First Lady’s project done. Do you remember that period? I suggest to leadership please no. Last thing this country needs is to waste more money we borrow on government spending just to try get Americans including its leadership healthier, government is Fat enough. Over indulgent Americans will only learn generosity and simplicity when Americans return back to reading the Word of God like everything else. Everything returns back to God. Which also a reflection how we live and how generous we are living. Our successes- our problems it all reflects our individual relationship with God through the Cross whether one believes in Jesus or not. If we are fatter, than we should be, for our body dimensions. it’s more likely a reflection we aren’t spending or giving as much as we ought to someone else or something. I like what Jennifer Lopez movie Maid in Manhattan said about community leaders at a benefit, “if Mr. Wanton Maddox, or whatever,
    his name is, really wants to help…why doesn’t he give the $ 2000 per plate to the inner-city schools? And eat a little bit lighter that night,” Giving without seeking a benefit to your self.

  10. I further think that more babies being fed on that Similac formula instead breast feeding has something to do with increased bone and muscle growth plus the likely path for the baby to become plump or obese as a k-12 student. I observe as well as I was told the bottle feeding gives too much serving size to the baby who will just drink it even if his tummy is full much like us adults we eat more of something cause it taste good or we are bored or we are comfort eating only expanding our stomach wall muscles so gradually our stomach is stretched out to accommodate larger quantities. When a mother 100% breast feeds like I was privileged to do, the body just produces the perfect amount a baby can consume for one serving per feeding which is one serving every two hours. I think that obesity starts with that formula and how much parents had been giving to a baby with a tiny stomach only increasing what the baby eats when he is eating solid foods through his early development ages birth through 5 years continuing the overeating habit through k-12 years.

    What our nation eats and how much one eats of their food choices. It’s a personal freedom and choice as well as the habit they develop. Government including us can’t tell someone what and how much they should eat including spending money. Just give them suggestions and one personally lead by example. Display to your friends, family, and neighbors a better life or a changed life through your own life.

  11. Stop buying products with High Fructose Corn Syrup, stop putting artificial hormones in the meat, stop putting energetic kids on adderall, make schools have 3 hours of physical fitness everyday, mandatory 2 hours outside everyday (even in winter), put men in positions of authority again, and end the crisis single motherhood puts onto children.
    85% of your problems are fixed.

    Inb4 masked avenger shows up to say focusing on children’s health & parents focusing on their children’s wellbeing is literal nazi germany.

  12. Another great contemplative piece for MRAK readers and beyond. Thanks Ms. Downing, for the fruits of knowledge that you share through your journalism. Besides obesity, gluttony, and slothfulness, American youth have another problem:. Medications.
    If you only knew how often parents put their kids on all kinds of antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and psychotropic drugs, it would explain the mental illnesses evolving in our society. It is scary! Kids experiment with illicit drugs to obtain a high, and frequently mix these with prescription drugs creating contraindications that can result in physical damage as well as mental breakdown.
    Furthermore, many of the medications prescribed have an effect that we are still studying. That is, the docility created to indoctrinate thoughts into young undeveloped minds. We are already seeing the outcomes.

    • Doc, you forgot access to a bunch of lame sugary drinks that we feed kids from toddlerhood through adolescence. But are we ready to regulate the food industry and remove that crap from shelves?

      • Really? You compare sugary beverages to putting kids on amphetamines and downers at the same time to make them less troublesome for adults? You clearly ignore the long term mental health effects, we are now seeing with drugged kids that are now adults and want to continue that high? Your answer is conveniently putting the responsibility on government. This is a personal responsibility issue and much bigger and more nuanced then just sugary drinks.

    • Not true Whidbey…its quite the opposite.
      Hollywood and the “whitehouse” sets the “tone” for a huge majority of “TicToc twerking” youth and todays tone from Hollywood is “Fats where its at especially if your black” as well as Joes “If you aint votin for me then you aint black”.
      There seems to be plenty of interest in the young tanned and toned.

    • Not true Whidbey…its quite the opposite.
      Hollywood and the “white house” sets the “tone” for a huge majority of “TikTok twerking” youth and today’s tone from Hollywood is “Fat’s where it’s at especially if you’re black” as well as Joe’s “If you aint votin’ for me then you ain’t black”.
      There seems to be plenty of interest in the young tanned and toned if you have the courage to look around.

  13. Not only would it suck to be fat, but can you imagine being a MAGAtard on top of that ? Eeesh, two strike loser.

    Look how fat Trump is, and look at how many admirer’s he has. Not that a MAGAtard would ever join the military, because they would never do that due to their selfishness.

    But do you know what’s worse than being fat, Suzanne ? Is being a liar. Not only being a liar is worse, but being a liar who knowingly and intentionally publishes lies about people who live in my community.

    You do this. You knowingly publish things that you either know are not true, or are too lazy to confirm. Or are you just dumb ? No, it’s not that, you know better. Your father was a journalist and your husband is a journalist. No, you know better, Old Man Morris didn’t teach you that.

    You do it intentionally, and that makes it that much more egregious.

    You lie, you distort the truth, and you punch down on people who are below you.

    What a sad, sad person you are, Suzanne Downing. You really are.

    • Look. A liberal fat shaming. Who could have thought the left was capable of such rampant hypocrisy?
      Oh yeah, everybody.

      Just for giggles, please publish a list of the alleged “lies”. If they are so numerous it should be easy for you.

      Also, if you are so outraged by liars, where is your condemnation of Grandpa Bloodstains?

    • A progressive fat shaming and slandering people. Imagine. Who could have guessed a progressive capable of rank hypocrisy? Oh yeah. Everyone.

    • Dr. Bob…who has an 8 the grade degree. Not to mention a huge load of TDS…..Trump arrangement Syndrome. Go see a real doctor and get mental help……or an exorcism.

    • Hahahah…heheh. Hooooh……. You really are lost aren’t you “doctor”? Can’t stand having to look at the wreck you created?
      Dig in Son…… gets worse from here
      Herr doctor.

    • Dr. Bob, you wouldn’t be one of those Medical Fakes that pushed Fauci’s jab?
      I think the part about “knowingly pushing things you know to be untrue” kind of gave you away!

      I think what bothers you the most is when someone questions your lies.

  14. We men in the strong men category are older but, still fit. If battle ends up on US soil, we will defend with the guns and skills that we have accumulated.

    • Actually, if you have ever read up on ancient history, men had long hair, (think Native Americans too), and they often braided, bunned or pony-tailed their hair to keep it out of the way while working/fighting. Man-bun has absolutely NOTHING to do with manliness, as our not-so-esteemed “president” is a case in point.

      • KKirk, while long hair on men has a proud historical tradition (think vikings, mongols, Scots, samurai…) the length of hair and adornments are very much dependent on the various time periods. Simply claiming that man buns should be okay because the vikings did it, erases all societal context for any time period. In the here and now man buns are associated with “girly men” whether true or false is besides the point. It appears that the Birkenstock crowd favored that hair do and it sort of stuck.

  15. Wonderful analysis of reality Suzanne & thanks for you presentation of the facts . Inflation isn’t happening to or lives finances but our physical being. Right on work here, in your snapshot of the future of the lazy men we are raising in America. Gout may disable them before they even get into the work force… maybe AI is more into our future then we realize. God Save America

  16. Aside from the devolution of culture there are several reasons why we are seeing the loss of masculinity in Ameraican men. Just looking at our diet, One could begin with Earl Butz, the crew cut sporting Sec of Agriculture under Nixion and his championing of High Fructose Corn Syrup with its devastating results. ( fattening due to its high sugar content, resulting in diabetes etc., it’s in every soda and sport drink)
    Add to that the extensive use of Soy in every processed food product. Most recently this fad of I.P.A. beer which is loaded with estrogen comes to mind. Naturalpathic Doctors prescribe a tea made with I.P.A. hops to post menopausal women.

    Given the above it’s easy to understand why American men today have something like only half of the testosterone of men just 50 years ago. It’s a National Tragedy unfolding before our eyes.

    • The under regulated agricultural sector that has fought for decades to add hormones, steroids, antibiotics, etc. to our meet production isn’t exactly benefitting everyone either. Children are reaching puberty years earlier now than they were decades ago and that is a bigger question to me–why is that happening? What’s changed in the food we eat and the chemicals we are exposed to that has triggered such a major change in our growth cycle?

      • The growth hormones in chicken and beef transfer when eaten. They permeate to the cellular level.

        Additionally, testosterone levels in men are way down. In some cases near historic levels.

        One of the reasons we are below population sustainment levels is when the average man is less interested in sex, and has a lower sperm content, less children.

  17. BLASPHEMY AHOY. What goes around, comes around, typically. You’ve got your mother’s mishaps, vehicular rearending gland damaging (look it up) with the moms and facsimiles roaring constantly; you’ve got dads loaming templarily in quieter greener pastures, you’ve got your cousin listing heartily after a secretly chemically castrated but handsome husband, while she all the while prays fervently for (his) alleged sexual gluttony etc. Ad nauseum. And there you have it. ALAAAAASKA. By all means, hang around. Good luck, nurse.

    • 6:48A and you are already quick fried to a crackly crisp there, Granny. I get the impression you wake up on a downtown Anchorage sidewalk and stumble into the bum infested downtown Kaladi to give your Obama phone a bleary eyed talking to in front of god and everyone; finger pointing and mumbling until all around understand that you’re still completely embalmed from last night’s cocktail soiree. The one that walks in w/ the blanket as soon as the joint opens… babbling away about some nonsensical offense that happened in a dark and turgid stupor long ago and is now blamed on anyone that happens to be near.

      Wait until at least noon to begin the day’s festivities.

      • I’m done with you spiritual degenerate and hope God deals with you personally. I have not had one coffee at Kaladies ever.

      • Why I believe Trouser is a chick today! She got roused by the “mother’s mishaps”. That one hit the target for her. Mothers are demigods to be worshiped. If they keep getting in crashes it’s not their imperfect eyesight and refusal to get eyes checked because thot would be like saying I’m not perfect just the way I am. And then to connect the dots crashes (plural) and damaged glands that simply could not be true. But there was a recent study about exactly that. It makes sense. If steel gets bent in crashes perhaps glands get broken too. OH HOW DARE I Cast an aspersion against a selfish, thoughtless egg donor. BUT I did. Therefore the diatribe about me being up (taking care of my household) early in the am unlike she herself who hires servants to run her little business while she sleeps in. Then me rolled up in a blanket rolling around on a sidewalk. THIS is sociopathic daughter-in-law talk right down to calling me granny. Wouldn’t Trouser be a real gift from heaven as a racist DIL? We all have our burdens and she is mine. TROUSER INDEED. He’s long gone ain’t he except for his password. What another chump. Thanks for thinking of me again. Try not to be a sociopath. It is quite noticeable in egg donors.

  18. Good article Suzanne, here’s the thing that’s not brought up. In Europe the ability to get fresh healthy foods is much easier, go to a market in Germany and look at the food. Also when everyone sues everyone, IE some snowflake kid gets hurt in PE running, now kids can’t run in PE, I am not joking, my 3rd grader couldn’t run during PE they told him. I watch parents coddle their kids like they are precious China. Man up and let your kids fall, let them fail. We took our kids out of public school not for any reason other then the lowest common denominator is quite low and those kids that excel don’t get anything out of it. But let’s also realize our food delivery system is totally broken, and Conservatives don’t like to regulate anything so it will stay broken.

    • RINO, good thought above, excellent actually. I take exception to one part however. Your insistence on Goverment Regulation. I say deregulation is the answer here. The government pushed us into this place,( see my Earl Butz comment above).
      Market forces will demand changes in diet as the populace becomes informed.

      Hang tough RINO, we are all going to need each other in the days ahead!

    • Rino, I agree with your point regarding our lawyer nation and the immediate threat of “I’ll sue” if little Billy or Susie doesn’t get an “A”, scuffs their knees on the playground or gets bend out of shape when something is demanded of them. Many settings have no choice but to scale back their offerings to “make it safe”.
      Setting boundaries for kids is good parenting and telling them “no” isn’t cruel abuse either. Why an 8 year old needs a cellphone I never understood. Screen time is an activity killer!

      To you second point, I never bought the “food system is broken or food desert” claim. This is a personal responsibility issue. When I am at the grocery store I watch younger people shop. While their carts are piled high with pre-made chicken nuggets, burritos and personal sized meals, they walk right by the produce section or if they are bold get a pack of ready-to-eat carrots. During the pandemic they had prepared food delivered. Services like UberEats exploded.
      What it really boils down to, is that many do not know how to cook from scratch or see it as too much of an effort with a uncertain outcome. They have no clue what is actually in the food they are consuming. So much easier to pick up the phone and order pizza or throw that “lean” meal in the microwave. Those are personal choices. Produce, fresh meats and grains are available, but instead people are excused from being too lazy to make an effort to feed themselves properly, by laying it at the nebulous feet of “food deserts/food delivery system”.
      Europe also has an obesity problem with almost 60% of adults and 1 in 3 children being considered overweight or obese.
      This isn’t about availability, this is about people making poor choices and a government exploiting their lack of effort to waste more money on programs that are doomed to fail, but make the politicians able to pretend that they care.

  19. Wait a minute! I thought we have been told that maintaining physical fitness was racist. You know, them Not zees believed in working out too…..patiently waiting for the asteroid to fix the problem.

  20. Our government subsidizes unhealthy food with SNAP and then pays again with MediCaid and Medicare. The only health is in the dividends corporate America receives who then subsidizes politicians like Nick Begich. You get what you elect

    • I am waiting when I will see the state set up SNAP as WIC vouchers for specific foods and quantity size. That day is coming when the communists will regulate SNAP. Frank your comment response is a conservative comment.
      Yes. The state its been wasting too much money on foods with no nutritional value bought on SNAP.

    • Frank, exactly half right. Right about the Snap program, wrong about NBIII.
      It was Mary that immediately worked to enlarge rhe SNAP program, not Nick…

  21. There’s a spiritual well-being, too, that undergirds all the others -mental, physical, and emotional. We must not
    continue to ignore the spiritual and moral health of our nation’s youth!

    And yes, this begins in a stable home, where parents are the first educators.

    We’ve bought into the lie that success is only acceptable if we turn our children over to others to be raised, while we rush out of the house to sparkle in an office, only spending time with our kids on the evenings and weekends. Clearly, THEY have not been our priority, and they are are clearly suffering the consequences of our abandonment.

  22. When I was going to school some 70 years ago, PT (Gym) was part of every day curriculum. We did basic exercises … sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, etc. EVERY school day. As we got to Jr. High (7th -9th) grades, we played at least a half hour of some form of competition … wrestling, basketball, rope climbing EVERY school day. If weather permitted (Seattle/ Tacoma) we went outside to the track where we ran sprint and various distance races … and occasionally tried the field events, high jump, broad jump, shot put …. and even the pole vault if you wanted a lesson in humility. Certainly not every young person was athletic, but the coaches were pretty knowledgeable about what exercises and games were appropriate for what students. And would you believe it, we even had two-round boxing matches, complete with puffy gloves and headgear. In fact, my high school had a “smoker” every year where they had a “card” of six to eight three-round fights in different weight classes. In four years, I never won a fight. Looking back, I really only remember less than 10 kids out of a 1000 student body, who seemed to be noticeably overweight. And yes, girls had Gym class and rigorous exercise too. My wife often speaks proudly how she was the fastest runner in high school, and could climb ropes the fastest. Today I can’t imagine why they even put locker rooms in schools any more. It seems the only people who use them are organized school teams. I think the abolishing of “Gym” in our schools was a terrible decision for our kids, and even for our country.

  23. My nephew wanted to be in the Army like his dad.
    He was a naturally heavy set person & the recruiters rejected him & told him to loose weight & try again.
    He tried 2 more times & made it on his 3rd try.
    He did 2 tours in Iraq as a driver & his vehicle was blown off the road by a buried mine on his 2nd tour.
    He now leaves AK & drives an 18 wheeler all over the country, then comes back here for a 2 week R&R.
    The Army did right by this young man & he stays fit today.
    Would today’s army let him in, weight issues & all?

  24. It’s turning around, so there’s hope- “From 2021 to 2022, there were statistically significant increases in food insecurity and very low food security for nearly all subgroups of households described in this report,” USDA reported Wednesday”. And bugs.

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