Obesity Poses Security Risk, Say Ex-Military Brass

Obesity rates among young Americans soon could cut into military quotas, since more than one in four recruits are too heavy to enlist.

Obesity is the number one medical reason that Americans ages 17 to 24 are rejected from joining the military. Now, a group of retired military brass hopes to put an end to the rejection of potential recruits due to weight problems.

The non-profit group Mission Readiness (www.missionreadiness.org) recently released its first national obesity report, Too Fat to Fight, which asserts that the obesity epidemic among young people is limiting the pool of healthy Americans who are fit enough for military service. More than 27 percent of young adults are too overweight to enlist, according to the report, and the problem will likely continue to get worse if change isn’t implemented soon.

“The childhood obesity rate has tripled in the past 10 years, so the trend line is alarming,” group member retired Rear Adm. James A. Barnett told AOL News. “Our national security near 2030 really depends on us reversing this national obesity rate.”

The organization advocates the Obama administration’s proposed $10 billion nutrition bill aimed at serving healthier school lunches and establishing more stringent regulations to boost the nutritional value of children’s daily meals.

Although the recession has helped the military to reach current enlistment goals across all branches, the report cautions that the obesity epidemic could cut into quotas dangerously in the near future. In addition, service members discharged because of weight problems cost the government tens of millions of dollars every year spent on training replacements.

In addition to promoting serving healthier lunch options in schools, Mission Readiness is also pushing to eliminate junk food and high-calorie beverages from school properties, and developing educational initiatives on lifestyle changes for children and their parents. Addressing weight issues among children and teens, the group says, can not only help curb the obesity problem in America, but also help preserve national security.

One Response

  1. Buzzerfly

    Where were the cries of fat soldiers, sailors and airmen when the now retired general officers were in charge? Did their policies and unwillingness to correct the situation not help to create the problem that our services are now facing?
    As we work in increasingly joint operations, it is clear that all of the services (minus the Marine Corps) are indeed increasingly fat, but none stand out more so than the average US Navy sailor. I’m sure they are great Americans, and perform their duties well, but when you see them in mixed-service situations, they stand apart largely due to their size and lack of physical conditioning. As a former sailor, and current US Army Officer, it pains me to see this, and hope that the leadership that is CURRENTLY serving will take it upon themselves to try something radical…. by upholding the standards that are in place, and placing some kind of restrictions on the food choices that are available to servicemen and women as they serve overseas. You can only shake your head in amazement when you see a portly soldier, sailor, or airman in Iraq wolf down a meal of starches and fried food, only to waddle over to the desert counter and load up on a tub of ice cream with all the fixins…. Fear of losing their job may be the kind of motivation many of these people need to curb their appetite.

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