As the nation’s obesity epidemic spreads, young Americans are too fat to serve in the military, according to a new report issued by a group of retired military leaders. According to the report, one in three young adults nationwide are ineligible to be recruited by the military because of their weight.
The weight factor
“An alarming 75 percent of all young Americans 17 to 24 years of age are unable to join the military because they failed to graduate from high school, have criminal records, or are physically unfit,” America’s Retired Generals, Admirals and Civilian Military Leaders said. “Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service.”
Young Americans too fat to serve in the military
The organisation of retired senior military leaders, is warning Congress: “at least nine million 17-to 24-year-olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the military”. That is 27 percent of all young adults.
Otherwise excellent candidates, are being turned away because they are just too fat, considered overweight or obese. What was once a health issue has now become a national security one, threatening the future strength of the U.S. military, the report states.
Alarming data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The report cites a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing an alarming increase in obesity rates among young adults across the country.
Recent statistics show that over the past 10 years, the number of states with 40 percent of young adults considered to be overweight or obese has risen from one state to 39. In three states – Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi – more than fifty percent of young adults are overweight.
What’s next in improving national nutrition?
In 1946, with General Lewis Hershey, the military played a crucial role convincing Congress to pass the original National School Lunch Act as a way to improve the nutrition of the country’s kids and ensure America’s national security, the report argues.
“To reduce America’s obesity rates we must start with the basics,” they now say. The report proposes, in addition to physical exercise, to begin shaping children’s eating habits in schools. To promote a balanced diet, they urged Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation that would get rid of junk food in schools and support quality rather than quantity, while providing kids access to effective programs that cut obesity.
“If we don’t take steps now to build a strong, healthy foundation for our young people, then it won’t just be our military that pays the price – our nation as a whole will suffer also,” they concluded.
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