Regarding the April 15 Metro article “A gnawing school snack debate”:

As a parent whose child attended Fairfax County Schools, I was pleased to read that Fairfax and Montgomery County parents are demanding healthier snacks in school.

A quarter of Fairfax adults and a fifth of Montgomery adults are overweight or obese, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings. I am a retired Marine general officer. Obesity is now the leading medical disqualifier for military service, with one in four young Americans too overweight to serve. Among those who are able to join, failure to meet weight standards is one of the primary causes for release from active duty, and the military spends $1.2 billion per year treating weight-related diseases alone.

Eating and exercise habits are formed in the earliest years of a child’s life. Children across America consume hundreds of billions of calories of junk food at school every year. It is good that the Department of Agriculture is updating decades-old standards for foods sold in school vending machines and cafeteria snack lines. But local schools don’t need to wait for Uncle Sam to tell them what to do. They can listen to parents now and support children by encouraging healthy food choices.

Ronald L. Beckwith, Fairfax

The writer is a member of the executive advisory council for Mission: Readiness.