A report released Wednesday by a group of retired military leaders found that one in three young adults in the US are too heavy to join the military - a quandary posing significant recruiting problems at the Pentagon.
According to Military.com, 20% of all male and 40% of female potential recruits are too overweight to pass the minimum standards. If a potential recruit is 27 years old or younger, men must have a body-fat percentage below 26%, while women must be below 32%.
Mission: Readiness (Military Leaders for Kids), the Kansas-based non-partisan group behind the latest report, is promoting healthy school lunches to make sure that kids are in shape for recruitment.
"We think a more healthy lifestyle over the long term will have significant impacts on both the military posture — those available to get into the military — and across our society as a whole from a medical perspective," retired Brigadier Gen. John Schmader told CBS News.
Since 2002, there has been a 61% increase in obesity among active-duty forces as well, which has raised the cost of health care spending and costs to replace personnel who become unfit for duty.
In addition to obesity, a lack of adequate education, a criminal history, and drug use make up the top reasons for military ineligibility. In Mission: Readiness’ home state of Kansas, for example, 71% of people aged 17-24 do not qualify for military service.