Whatever you think of U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a little unnerving to read a recent report by a panel of top retired military officers on the physical fitness of military recruits.
Titled "Too Fat to Fight," the April study bluntly concludes that 9 million 17- to 24-year-olds -- 27 percent of all young adults -- "are too fat to serve in the military." The report by the nonprofit organization Mission: Readiness calls this trend "a threat to national security" and notes that "being overweight is now by far the leading medical reason for rejection." From 1995 to 2008, the study says, "the proportion of potential recruits who failed their physicals each year because they were overweight rose nearly 70 percent."
Within just 10 years, the number of states reporting that 40 percent of their 18- to 24-year-olds are obese or overweight went from one (Kentucky) to 39. In three states -- Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama -- more than 50 percent of the young adults were obese or overweight in 2008. To reach normal weight, the nation's out-of-shape young adults would have to lose a collective 390 million pounds, according to the report.
While this isn't a bad story, I think an even bigger story might be the Army's reluctance to enforce height/weight standards or physical fitness test standards in the last few years. (Hint, hint).