More than two-thirds of active-duty military personnel in the US are overweight, according to a new report from the American Security Project. In ten years, the proportion of overweight individuals has more than doubled.
The percentage of people in active military service suffering from obesity has increased from 10.4 percent to 21.6 percent between 2012 and 2022. In total, 68 percent of active-duty military personnel now either suffer from being overweight or obese, the report states. At the same time, the same report highlights that 42 percent of adults and 20 percent of children in the U.S. today are classified as obese, which is also the most common reason for being disqualified from military service.
– At a time when we are struggling to recruit an adequate labor force for the military, the growing rates of obesity are especially alarming, says Matthew Wallin, Chief Operating Officer of the American Security Project, as reported by Military Times.
The report emphasizes that the growing problem of obesity reduces military readiness and should be treated as a health issue, not as a moral failing. At the same time, it’s believed important not to depict obesity as a matter of insufficient willpower, as it might deter soldiers from seeking help.
“Framing obesity as an issue of insufficient willpower or discipline prevents soldiers from seeking and receiving treatment, makes commanders and healthcare workers less inclined to intervene, and worsens health outcomes across the services”, the report states.
Finally, the report recommends that the Defense Health Agency should actively work to raise awareness of obesity as a chronic disease within the military. Furthermore, all active-duty military personnel suffering from obesity should be referred to doctors specializing in obesity or, for example, dietitians to receive proper treatment.