Nearly a quarter of military recruits are rejected because they're too fat — and a majority of today's youngsters aren't fit to serve because they're overweight, use drugs, or have criminal records or educational deficits, a new report found.
The 14th annual State of Obesity report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation determined in part that "obesity is a national security issue."
"Being overweight or obese is the leading cause of medical disqualifications, with nearly one-quarter of [military] service applicants rejected for exceeding the weight or body fat standards," the report's authors found.
And obese service members and their families are costly, the report found, costing the military about $1 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Another stunning finding in the report: More than 70 percent of today's youth are not fit to serve in the military due to obesity, or being overweight, criminal records, a drug misuse or educational deficits.
However, the report found adult obesity rates are showing signs of leveling off this year, with obesity rates exceeding 35 percent in five states, 30 percent in 25 states, and 25 percent in 46 states.
Other report findings included:
- Nine of the 11 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South, and 23 of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.
- Adult obesity rates have racial and ethnic inequities — with rates above 40 percent for blacks in 15 states, and rates at or above 35 percent among Latinos in nine states, compared with rates above 35 percent among whites in one state.
- Obesity rates are around 30 percent higher among adults without a college education and with incomes below $15,000 compared with other adults.
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