With no end in sight, the U.S. obesity epidemic is continuing to have surprising and far-reaching impacts on American society — and now, the country’s collective weight problem has even begun to affect military recruiting.
On Wednesday, July 15, a group of retired military leaders released a report that revealed some shocking statistics. For every three young adults in America, one of them will be considered too heavy to enlist in military service.
With a third of children and teens in the U.S. considered obese or overweight, obesity is now one of the top reasons why people between 17 and 24 years of age are considered to be ineligible for the military.
If no actions against the country’s obesity rate are taken, the report warned, the rate of obesity among active duty service members may gradually worsen over time.
“This problem threatens to diminish our military strength, and put our national security at risk,” said Larry Lust, a retired major general for the U.S. Army, and a member of Mission: Readiness, the group that conducted the study.
Many experts point to childhood obesity as a major factor behind lifelong weight problems. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidelines in a move to combat childhood weight problems, stressing that it’s up to parents to establish healthy habits at home.
According to Yahoo News, the AAP’s new guidelines, updated for the first time in more than a decade, encourage parents to teach their children about healthy eating and the importance of exercise.
Additionally, parents should adopt family-based strategies and activities that can promote healthier lifestyles for the whole family. The American Heart Association has stated that children should get 60 minutes or more of continuous physical activity every day — so every minute counts.
“Once obesity is established, it’s very hard to treat,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, chairman of the AAP nutrition committee. “The home environment has a big influence on what kids eat and how active they are.”