Pen­tagon grap­ples with obe­sity epi­demic

US cri­sis: Study shows one-third of Amer­i­cans too fat to join mil­i­tary

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD - AGEN­CIES /

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 nearly one-third of young Amer­i­cans are now too over­weight to join up, a wor­ry­ing statis­tic for mil­i­tary of­fi­cials al­ready fac­ing re­cruit­ment 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 at­tract­ing 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. A strong US econ­omy and tight jobs mar­ket played a role, but the num­bers high­light the dwin­dling pool of ap­pli­cants the Pen­tagon has to draw from.

Ac­cord­ing to the De­fence De­part­ment, obe­sity is one of the top rea­sons why a stun­ning 71% 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. The re­port, by re­tired gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals, notes the obe­sity is­sue is a worry as it comes when fewer young peo­ple are in­ter­ested in join­ing the mil­i­tary.

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