Excess weight disqualifies many youth from military service

By • Published: July 14th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

“Too Fat to Fight”… that’s the name of a recent report analyzing the effect of America’s obesity epidemic on military recruitment.

The report was authored by a nonprofit group of former military personnel advocating for the development of healthy young generations ready to serve America. And it cites information from the Army stating that twenty-seven percent of Americans ages seventeen to twenty-four are so overweight they wouldn’t be allowed to join the military.

The group, called Mission: Readiness, says that’s a threat to national security. Add the number of young Americans who can’t serve because they did not finish high school or because they have criminal records disqualifying them, and the group of young adults ineligible to serve in the military is a whopping seventy-five percent, according to the Department of Defense.

After World War II, military leaders said American youth were undernourished, and many were abnormally small. Congress passed the first National School Lunch Act in the 1940s, and nutrition among American children did improve as a result.

The report, meanwhile, places much responsibility for America’s obese youngsters on the food sold and served in public schools. It also calls on Congress to prohibit junk foods and unhealthy beverages from being served or sold in public schools, and to spend more money on school lunch programs.

When it comes down to it, even if your child never plans to join the military, maintaining an appropriate weight is important to a healthy, productive future.

Like adults, kids should eat whole grains, dairy products that are low fat, lots of fruits and veggies, as well as lean proteins. Too much fat and sugar can cause unwanted weight gain.