Obesity Experts Support the Call for Innovative, Evidence-Informed Strategies to Increase the Prevalence of Qualified Military Recruits

Silver Spring, Maryland, UNITED STATES

Silver Spring, Md., Oct. 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Researchers and clinicians associated with The Obesity Society (TOS) say that new, evidence-informed strategies need to be developed to help combat the lack of potential qualified recruits who want to join the military but cannot due to overweight and obesity.

“Developing innovative evidenced-informed interventions that reduce and prevent childhood obesity and improve physical fitness are critical not only for the health and wellness of our nation, but for national security,” said Diana Thomas, a member of the TOS Advocacy Committee, and a professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy.

“Unhealthy and Unprepared,” a recent study conducted by the Mission: Readiness Council for a Strong America, concluded that the increasing numbers of youth who are overweight will significantly hamper the country’s ability to maintain national security. 

According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are ineligible to join the military, primarily because they are too heavy or poorly educated, or they have a record of serious crime or drug abuse. Weight-related issues appear as the single greatest reason for ineligibility.

“There is no simple solution or easy answer to this problem,” said Aaron Kelly, PhD, chair of the TOS Pediatric Obesity Section and co-director of the University of Minnesota Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine. “Preventing and effectively treating pediatric obesity has proven to be exceedingly challenging. Investing in research represents the first and most critical step toward finding solutions.  In this age of political hyper-partisanship, this is one issue for which all should be able to find common ground.  American citizens and lawmakers need to prioritize funding for obesity research in this country.  Obesity has placed an unacceptably high burden our healthcare system and now looms as a threat to fulfill recruitment into our military services.

The Mission: Readiness Council for a Strong America study revealed that of the 29 percent of young Americans who hold a high school diploma, have no criminal record and no chronic medical issues, only one in six would qualify and be available for active duty; fewer still (13 percent) would qualify, be available, and could achieve a satisfactory score on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test.

“We need to be able to communicate early and in an acceptable manner the concerns of inappropriate weight gain in our youth.  Additionally, an integrated effort supported by all sectors in the community will be needed to achieve the necessary sustained improvement in nutritional intake and physical activity associated with a healthier lifestyle,” said Van S. Hubbard, MD, PhD, who recently retired from the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination at the National Institutes of Health.

“Our nation’s soldiers are encountering more complex and challenging conflicts than ever before. Preparing a combat ready force begins long before basic training,” concluded Thomas.


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The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading organization of scientists and health professionals devoted to understanding and reversing the epidemic of obesity and its adverse health, economic and societal effects.  Combining the perspective of physicians and other clinicians, scientists, policymakers and patients, TOS promotes innovative research, education, and evidence-based clinical care to improve the health and well-being of all people with obesity. For more information, visit www.obesity.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.







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