As health care providers we worry about the obesity epidemic because of the detrimental effects obesity has on a person’s health. The US military is becoming concerned that the obesity epidemic may create national security concerns.
Obesity is the most common reason potential recruits are disqualified from service according to a report titled “Still Too Fat to Fight” which was recently released by Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military leaders.
The group is calling on Congress to enact stricter rules on school food by requiring schools to provide more healthy food options. This is not the first time the military has been concerned with school nutrition. After World War II, when 40 percent of recruits were rejected for being malnourished, Congress created the national school lunch program.
The pendulum has swung the other way and military leaders are concerned that kids are overnourished. In 201o the group that produced the “Still Too Fat to Fight” report pushed for the Health Hunger-Free Kids Act which requires schools to offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The USDA is now working on updating the standards for foods sold in school vending machines and snack shops.
During the Iraq war the Army relaxed its standards on physical fitness and allowed body fat percentages up to 24%. The problem was the overweight recruits were 47% more likely to have muscle or bone injuries and many had to repeat boot camp. The Army has since restored the maximum allowable body fat to 20%.
The obesity epidemic in the United States is not only affecting hospital admissions, it’s also affecting military admissions and our national security…