Forty percent of German soldiers are overweight, a news story this week revealed.
Given that ninety - seven percent of statistics are made up on the spur of the moment we should not take that figure too seriously. A quick glance at an alternative set of figures, those of German soldiers whose pictures appear on the web, tells us there is some cause for concern. Not only are the boys noticeably a tad portly they all seem to have a ciggy in one hand and a beer in the other.
This is not so unusual as the Germans are a surprisingly sensual nation and as likely as anyone to develop a little weakness they like to indulge. It is something of a national pastime and temptation is everywhere. While working in Luxembourg I developed a little weakness of my own. Her name was Gretchen and I loved to indulge her.
Being on the tubby side is not a great drawback for a soldier, a few surplus pounds can be very beneficial when stranded in hostile territory and having to live off the land. Also we must remember the German military are not called upon to do much fighting or running away which is a good thing because further investigation reveals ten per cent are clinically obese.
I love that phrase "clinically obese." It's like saying psychologists or evangelical preachers are "clinically sane."
Rheinhold Robbe, Defence Secretary in the German government refuses to criticise the troops blaming instead bureaucracy and bean counting.
"The soldiers do not move around enough," he said, "they spend too much time filling in forms, testing vehicle emissions and sorting rubbish for recycling."
Herr Robbe also said that budget constraints had led to a reduction in the quality of army food in recent years.
I advise Herr Robbe to think things through more carefully. Would it not make more sense to balance the budget by reducing the quantity of food rather than the quality?