The U.S is suffering from obesity epidemic and this problem causes significant impact when it comes to recruiting personnel for the military.
A new report by a group of retired military leaders that was released on Wednesday has revealed that for every three young adults in the country, one is too fat to be enlisted for military service.
"We think a more healthy lifestyle over the long term will have significant impacts on both the military posture - those available to get into the military - and across our society as a whole from a medical perspective," said retired Brigadier Gen. John Schmader, who is part of the group of retired military leaders who go to school around Kansas to promote healthier lifestyles.
The group known as Mission: Readiness (Military Leaders for Kids) promotes healthy school lunches across the nation particularly in Kansas as a way to help fight the obesity problem.
Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about a third of children and teens in the U.S. are either obese or overweight, conditions that increase odds for certain illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. In Kansas, 29 percent of teenage kids are overweight.
The report says that obesity is one of the leading reasons why people between 17 and 24 years old are not eligible for the military. Other reasons include inadequacy of education, use of drugs and a criminal history. Seventy-one percent of Kansans are not eligible to serve in the military.
The report says that the rate of obesity among active duty service members may worsen in the future if no action is made.
The military found a 61 percent increase in obesity among those in active duty since 2002 and this has increased the cost of and spending in obesity-related healthcare and replacement of unfit military personnel. More than $1.5 billion is spent each year on healthcare costs and on recruiting replacements for those who are too unfit to serve.
"We all want our children to grow up stronger and healthier, not weaker and sicker. That will require improving the eating and exercise habits that have led to the tripling of childhood obesity rates since 1980, military obesity rates increasing by 61 percent in less than a decade, and countless billions of dollars spent treating preventable illness and disease," the report reads [pdf].
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