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    ‘Unfit to Fight': Childhood Obesity Problems Threaten US Military Recruits

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    According to an October report conducted by the non-profit group Council for a Strong America, 27 percent of Coloradans aged from 17 to 24 are unable to enlist in the US military because they are deemed overweight.

    "Low levels of physical activity and the obesity epidemic are contributing to an unprecedented readiness problem for our armed forces," the council's report stated. "Obesity is one of the primary reasons disqualifying nearly one-third of young Americans."

    Other factors that held the age group from joining the military ranks included lack of education, drug abuse and criminal records.

    Though the Centennial State has an obesity rate of 14.5 percent and its overweight stat sits at a low 12 percent, military officials say it's still not good enough.

    "The obesity rate among Colorado children is 14.5 percent and roughly 80 percent of children who are overweight in adolescence are at risk of becoming obese as adults," Gregory Martin, a retired US Air Force general, said in the study. "This may result in Colorado's adult obesity rate increasing in the future."

    Martin wasn't the only US military figure concerned about the numbers, though.

    "It gets extremely dangerous when you can't keep up with the rest of the pack," Terrance McWilliams, a retired commander, told The Gazette Sunday. "You are putting your fellow comrades at greater risk."

    Wanting to whip future recruits into shape and lower obesity and overweight rates even more, the Council hopes to get state-mandated physical education classes, create more bicycle lanes and launch programs that promote healthy-eating lifestyles within the state.

    "We want to help kids from an early age," Michael Cooke, Colorado's state directory for the non-profit, said in a statement. "They may not choose military service, but we want them to have a healthy start, so they can be productive members of society."

    Backed by the Gates Foundation, the non-profit group will take the matter to the Colorado General Assembly in 2018, but in the meantime some officials are also suggesting that parents jump in to help eradicate the growing epidemic.

    "It requires parents [to] be participants and leaders in their children's activity and eating lifestyles," Gene Renuart, a retired general who led the US Northern Command in Colorado Springs, told the outlet.

    According to Renuart, parents should be more aware of what foods their children are consuming and encourage them to — as Michelle Obama would say — get up and move. 

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    Obesity, US military, United States, Colorado
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