For many young Americans a career in the military is their only dream for the future. But due to a rise in obesity that path is being denied to many according to the 2016 Citizen Readiness Index, a report published by youth development nonprofit Council for a Strong America, based in Washington, D.C.
The report, which compiles research from many reputable sources including the Pentagon and the Pew Research Center, says that 71% of young adults between the ages of 17-24 are not eligible to serve in the US military because of “problems with obesity, education, drug abuse, or crime.”
As more and more Americans struggle with obesity, the epidemic is not just affecting the health of the nation’s citizens, but national security. A significant drop in military enlistments is a direct result of the country’s weight gain.
“Obesity is one of the major issues we see and plays a role in 31 percent of disqualifications,” Kelli Bland, the chief of public affairs at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said in a recent interview. “If the obesity issue in America increases in the coming years, it could have a detrimental impact on our national security because we may not have enough young people willing and qualified to serve in the armed forces.”
In a study conducted by medical journal The Lancet, the US is home to more than 25% of the world’s severely obese men and nearly 20% of the world’s severely obese women. Those numbers continue to increase, it’s estimated that by 2025 more than 40% of Americans will be obese.
Despite these less-than-encouraging statistics, those predictions don’t have to materialise. In order to increase military opportunities to that younger demographic, people need to become more pro-active in what they eat and how often they exercise. Research continues to champion the consumption of healthy fats over artificial sweeteners and added sugars, and how beneficial grass-fed proteins can be when eaten alongside a variety of vegetables. Obesity is not something the American public should become despondent towards: everyone has a choice about what they consume.
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