Mil­i­tary re­cruit­ments tougher as more Amer­i­cans grow obese

Sunday Express - - WORLD -

FOR­GET about the high-tech mil­i­tary chal­lenges from China and Rus­sia, the Pen­tagon is fac­ing a fast-grow­ing na­tional se­cu­rity threat that could be even trick­ier to tackle: Amer­ica’s obe­sity cri­sis.

A study re­leased this week has found that nearly one-third of young Amer­i­cans are now too over­weight to join up, a wor­ry­ing statis­tic for mil­i­tary of­fi­cials al­ready f a c i n g re c r u i t ment chal­lenges.

“Obe­sity has long threat­ened our na­tion’s health. As the epi­demic grows, obe­sity is pos­ing a threat to our na­tion’s se­cu­rity as well,” the Coun­cil for a Strong Amer­ica states in its new re­port. The Army last month an­nounced it would miss its goal of at­tract- ing 76,500 new re­cruits in 2018. The short­fall is of about 6,500 sol­diers — the first time since 2005 the ser­vice had missed its hir­ing tar­gets.

Ac­cord­ing to the De­fense Depart­ment, obe­sity is one of the top rea­sons why a stun­ning 71 per cent of Amer­i­cans aged 17-24 do not meet the mil­i­tary’s sign-up re­quire­ments.

“Given the high per­cent­age of Amer­i­can youth who are too over­weight to serve, re­cruit­ing chal­lenges will con­tinue un­less mea­sures are taken to en­cour­age a healthy life­style be­gin­ning at a young age,” states the study, en­ti­tled Un­healthy and Un­pre­pared.

Other fac­tors such as prior drug use or a lack of aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions are also tak­ing a toll. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis, a re­tired Ma­rine gen­eral, last month said the shrink­ing pool of Amer­i­cans el­i­gi­ble to serve was a “big con­cern.”

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