America’s Obesity is Threatening National Security, According to Study
It’s well known at this point that just under 30 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 ― the prime age to join the Army ― aren’t eligible to join, reports ArmyTimes.
But beyond that, almost a third of those who sit down with a recruiter to take the first steps are immediately disqualified.
Why? Because of their weight.
“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest – 31 percent ― is obesity,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said Wednesday at AUSA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
A freshly published study, “Unhealthy and Unprepared” concludes that America’s rising numbers of overweight youth are going to have real impacts on the military’s ability to maintain effectiveness.
“We’ve got to make sure that message gets out, because our concern is what happens when that percentage that qualify … potentially goes down?” Muth said. “Or if the obesity, if that starts to go up.”
Researchers found that of the 29 percent of young Americans who have a high school diploma, no criminal record and no chronic medical issues, just 17 percent would be qualified and available for active duty, and 13 percent would qualify, be available, and achieve a satisfactory score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
“These numbers are particularly concerning because as the recruitable population has declined, so has interest in serving in the military,” the study found.
In 2016, 13 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds were interested in joining the military, and that number dropped 2 percent in 2017.
And for recruits who are overweight but not so much so that they can’t enlist altogether, there are risks after they have joined and are getting in shape during training.
The obesity issue is particularly stark in the South, from which the Army draws a large number of its recruits. The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, found that recruits in 10 Southern states had lower levels of physical fitness and were 22 percent to 28 percent more likely to be injured during basic training than their peers from other areas of the country, according to Mission: Readiness.
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