Addressing childhood obesity also supports US military readiness (The Hill)

THE HILL | Our childhood obesity epidemic here in the U.S. is as concerning as it is well-documented.  It’s no secret that obesity trends have been on the rise for the last 20 years. In fact, in 2016, 18.5 percent of youth ages 2-19 were classified as obese. And it’s only getting worse. 

The implications of these data and the impact of poor nutrition on our overall health and well-being are disheartening and demand action. And while the broad strokes of this challenge may be familiar to you, what is less well known is the way childhood obesity is inextricably linked to our country’s long-term national security.

Nationwide, 11 percent of our 17- to 24-year-olds do not qualify for military service strictly due to excess weight. If you combine this with other eligibility factors such as crime or drug abuse or even academic issues, this shocking ineligibility figure has held steady at 71 percent for years.  

However, the Department of Defense’s most recent figures show that an astonishing 77 percent of Americans of prime recruiting age would be ineligible for military service. This is a massive increase. Over three-quarters of American young people are ineligible due to some combination of factors, chief among them obesity.

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