Oh, America: Military Recruiting Hampered by Obesity


It looks like deep-fried butter and McDonald’s Extra-Value Meals are doing what anti-war protesters in the ’60s could have scarcely dared to dream would one day be possible: They are making people too fat to serve in the military.

NPR has a fascinating and sad story about the growing number of potential recruits who are considered too fat to fight. A group called Mission: Readiness says that more than nine million Americans aged 17 to 24 — prime recruiting age — are too heavy to join the military. The group has cited federal statistics that have found that in 39 states, 40 percent of adults in that age group are considered overweight or obese. And getting into the military doesn’t necessarily mean that one can stay there: a new report issued by Mission: Readiness claims that the military discharges 1,200 new enlistees every year due to weight problems.

The group is using the report to urge Congress to reauthorize a school nutrition program that would, among other things, restrict junk food and soda and improve the overall quality of the food offered. If they get their way, then Jamie Oliver’s war on Chicken McNuggets may have some more unintentionally literal long-term consequences.