I was pleased to read your recent editorial praising Portland public schools for removing soda from their vending machines (“Portland school soda ban a good lesson for kids,” Aug. 20). As your paper stated, this is an important step toward making a difference in childhood obesity.

According to a Mission: Readiness report, “Too Fat To Fight,” obesity is the leading medical disqualifier why young Americans, ages 17 to 24, cannot join the military, with one in four being too overweight to enlist.

Getting junk food out of our schools and physical education back in is critical to making sure America’s child obesity crisis does not become a national security crisis. Given that many school-aged children consume up to 50 percent of their calories at school, it is important to help them make the best nutritional choices at school. Removing soda as an option is a solid first step.

There is no magic bullet to addressing the child obesity challenge. Limiting the sale of junk food in schools is only part of the solution and such efforts should be one element in a comprehensive action plan to help our children understand and make healthy food choices.

To be successful, parents, schools and communities all need to teach our children about healthy lifestyles and good choices. I’m glad to see Portland is starting this process.

Anthony Ligouri, a retired Air Force brigadier general, lives in Kennebunk.