US Military Getting Fat

John Candy as a very hefty (ie fat) soldier in Stripes.

The news on the obesity epidemic gets worse. Now the military is getting fat.

Two-thirds of the active duty military personnel, which includes 1.5 million people total, are classified as overweight, and another 12 percent considered obese.

Our country’s obesity epidemic has the potential to undermine national security and public safety.

For a long time the military had difficulty recruiting enough young people to join the armed forces. Since the economy has been doing poorly, more young people have been volunteering to serve in the military so the US military is having an easier time finding recruits.

But there is a problem. A large number of young people can’t be considered. Why?

Nearly a third of Americans ages 17–24 are too heavy to join the military.

A vast pool of American youth is off-limits to military recruiters simply because they are just too damn fat to join the service. That’s astounding. Horrifying even.

Says General Richard E. Hawley, US Air Force (Ret.):

In the civilian world, unfit or overweight employees can impact the bottom line. But in our line of work, lives are on the line and our national security is at stake.

[Source: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Too Fat to Fight: Retired Military Leaders Want Junk Food Out of America’s Schools by Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids. Image courtesy of More Things.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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