Military recruitments tougher as more Americans grow obese
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.”