Why Attracting Overweight Recruits Is a Huge Problem

An airman checks his status with a scale and a tape measure.
An airman checks his status with a scale and a tape measure. (Senior Airman Michael J. Veloz/U.S. Air Force photo)

An article written by the Associated Press describing the overweight soldiers in our military (titled "Are U.S. Troops Too Fat to Fight?"), discusses the overweight trends of the active duty and reserve military, but also the recruits who are too heavy to enter into the military.

The military community has always been a cross-section of society -- good or bad. These days, as our country increases in size, it is only a matter of time before the military shares the traits of obesity and associated illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

A shocking 20% of all male recruits and 40% of female recruits are too heavy to enter the military. The new recruits basically have to lose weight so they barely can pass the minimum height and weight requirements, as well as the physical fitness tests. See the PFT standards for all military branches.

The problem with having recruits barely passing the minimum standards upon entering military boot camps or service academies is the unneeded stress:

  • On the joints of out-of-shape people.

  • Of constantly receiving extra attention for being below average.

  • Related to the loss of focus the new recruits have when actually learning their military jobs.

Being out of shape is a huge distraction for our recruits and soldiers. Many of these active-duty and reserve soldiers do not advance to higher ranks, therefore losing extra pay, benefits and future selection to jobs needed for career advancement. And on a far worse level, if the obesity problem with our troops is not fixed, we are dealing with a national strategic issue that makes it difficult to defend America from our enemies.

There are simple answers -- eat better and exercise more. Review the Stew Smith article archive for more ideas on fitting fitness into your life. Especially helpful are the most recent articles on a Summer Lean-Down Diet. This is a healthy way to burn fat and keep muscle so your fitness does not suffer while dieting.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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