U.S. military-age youth are increasingly unfit to serve — mostly because they’re in such lousy shape.
According to the latest Pentagon figures, a full 35 percent, or more than one-third, of the roughly 31.2 million Americans aged 17 to 24 are unqualified for military service because of physical and medical issues. And, said Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accessions, “the major component of this is obesity. We have an obesity crisis in the country. There’s no question about it.”
The Pentagon draws its data from the Centers for Disease Control, which regularly tracks obesity. The steadily rising trend is not good news for military recruiters, despite their recent successes, nor for the overall health of the U.S. population.
In 1987, according to the CDC, a mere 6 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds, or about 1 out of 20, were obese. In 2008, 22 years later, 23 percent of that age group — almost 1 out of 4 — was considered to be obese...
...In a study being released Thursday in Washington, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a group of retired military officers led by former Army Gen. Wesley Clark will sound the alarm bells and call young Americans’ relative lack of overall fitness for military duty a national security threat. The group, Mission: Readiness, will release a report that draws on Pentagon data showing that 75 percent of the nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for service for a variety of reasons.