Latest Report On Military Personnel Health Shows Disturbing Obesity Trend

Americans are getting fatter. The trend has shown up in reports on children’s health and has been a key focus of health agencies for several years. A recent report from the American Security Project indicates that the problem has spread to the nation’s military. The report indicates that 70% of the Armed Forces have a Body Mass Index that correlates to medically accepted definitions of obesity. According to the authors, obesity among troops has more than doubled in the last decade and now sits at 21.6% of the Armed Forces.

The Centers for Disease Control defines BMI as a person’s weight in kilograms or pounds divided by the square of a person’s height in meters or inches. BMI has been used for decades as a health guideline, but the measurement is increasingly falling out of favor with health practitioners.

In June 2023, the American Medical Association established new guidelines for doctors on how to use BMI when determining whether a person is obese. The organization states that BMI is useful when looking at populations of people but becomes less accurate when applied to individuals. Criticisms of BMI include that the measurement does not take into account factors such as race and ethnicity, gender, or age in an accurate way. New guidelines require that doctors use BMI in conjunction with other tests such as waist circumference, genetic or metabolic factors, and measurements of visceral fat.

The Armed Forces have faced a challenging time meeting recruitment numbers in recent years. As more young men and women seek a college education and confidence in the role the American military plays in global affairs has dropped, fewer people are joining ROTC programs and properly preparing for a military career. Studies indicate that just one-quarter of the eligible American population meets the obesity and fitness requirements to join the military.

The study by the American Security Project claims that obesity is the largest disqualifier for recruits and a leading cause of service-related injuries. Health problems such as joint and back injuries are commonly associated with being overweight, while excess body fat has long been tied to heart disease, breathing problems, and stroke.

The report lays out several steps the military should take to address rampant obesity. The authors state that the first step should be an overhaul of the current obesity standards should be eliminated and replaced with a comprehensive approach that makes it easier to provide medical intervention for obese troops and more regular reporting on the state of troop health.

The authors also caution that the results of the report should not be used as a descriptor of moral character, but rather should be viewed as evidence of a widespread health crisis that requires proper treatment.