The group recently released a report “Too Fat to Fight,” showing that “weight problems have become the leading medical reason why recruits are rejected for service” and “More than 9 million young adults – 27 percent of all Americans age 17 to 24 – are too overweight to join the military.”
But isn’t the technology advancement playing a more and more important role in military? Why can an intelligent and technology-savvy young man get rejected just because of being overweight?
Mark McGinley, professor of Military Science at Carroll College, said although technical skills can be superb, physical strength should never be overlooked.
“Fitness is a critical component for military service,” McGinley said. “Put somebody in an austere environment and maybe a lot of heat and a lot of cold. Levels of fitness are going to have a dramatic impact on your productivity.”
Kirby Hanson, professor of Military Science at Missouri State University, is likely to agree.
“If you’re not physically fit the extreme measures or the extreme environmental conditions, which are currently on-going, [it] would definitely affect the way you perform your job,” Hanson said. “For example, temperate rises to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit plus in Iraq in the summer time. If you have a solider who is overweight and is suffering because of the heat due to his weight, he is not able to do his job no matter how technically savvy he might be in his chosen profession.”
Therefore, although the number of the turned-down is astonishing, there is no reason for the military to change the policy or lower the standard, Hanson added.
“It’s not really a question of rejection on the army’s part. It has to be the soon-to-be soldiers, you know, he or she doesn’t take military steps to lose weight,” he said.
And, that, to McGinley, is a bigger societal issue. While there are plenty programs to help “soon-to-be soldiers” get leaned and meet the military standards, as a parent, he said, he is worried about his children’s health and food nutrition.
At the same time, “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation,” a report on childhood obesity, was released on Tuesday, claiming that the childhood obesity epidemic is a “national health crisis” and has “life-threatening consequences.” The report is done by a White House task force, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, aiming to curb the obesity epidemic.