Obesity in America is threatening national security according to military officials.
The U.S. Army failed to reach its goal of recruiting more than 76,000 soldiers this year. Defense leaders say most people were disqualified because they’re overweight.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth of U.S. Army Recruiting Command said, “If you can’t make your mission of meeting a recruiting goal for our Army, you are impacting our national security.”
Muth said the Army fell short of its 2018 recruitment goal.
One reason: too many recruits were deemed overweight and ineligible.
A new report titled “Unhealthy and Unprepared” studies the problem. It found 71 percent of young people ages 17-24 were unfit to serve.
Retired Adm. James Loy of the group Mission Readiness said, “Take stock of this eligibility percentage which is outlandish as it relates to 17- to 24-year-olds.”
Loy said Mission Readiness is working with military officials to raise awareness about obesity and its negative impact on the military.
In addition to recruiting concerns, officials say fighting the epidemic costs the defense department roughly $1.5 billion in health care expenses each year.
Military leaders are addressing obesity in the Army. One step is a new combat readiness test designed to help prevent injuries and better prepare soldiers for the physical demand of their jobs.
Loy said defense leaders and lawmakers must also find legislative solutions, including healthier food options on military bases and schools.