Students consume almost 400 billion junk food calories at school per year, equal to almost 2 billion candy bars and while the epidemic of childhood obesity is not 'news' per se - for one big employer in America, it is a major problem. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, the number one reason people can’t join the military is that they’re overweight or obese, and "still too fat to fight." The problem is large for active service members also with over 51% overweight (though better than the civilian population) as the DoD alone spends an estimated $1 billion per year for medical care associated with "weight-related health problems."
The No. 1 reason people can’t join the military is that they’re overweight or obese, says a group of retired military leaders who are fighting for improved childhood nutrition. Under the name Mission: Readiness, they estimate that more than one in five young Americans is too heavy to enlist in the armed services.
The group has been advocating the removal of junk foods from schools and the imposition of better nutritional standards in school lunches. The epidemic, they say, is affecting service members as well.
In a report called “Still Too Fat to Fight” (below), the group writes: “Finding ways to reverse our epidemic of obesity is crucial because the U.S. Department of Defense alone spends an estimated $1 billion per year for medical care associated with weight-related health problems” for service members and their families.
The Coast Guard has the highest proportion of overweight enlistees (57 percent); more than half of male service members are overweight, vs. 34 percent of women. Obesity affected 12.4 percent of service members, most often in the Army (15.8 percent) and Navy (14.9 percent) and about twice as frequently afflicting males (13.5 percent) as females (6.4 percent).
Among males who had to lose weight to join the military, 36.1 percent had to lose 10 to 19 pounds, and nearly 40 percent had to lose at least 20 pounds. Still, the military is doing better than the civilian population.
The full "Too Fat To Fight" report is below: