Obesity has been a well-talked about problem in the United States recently; however, the costs of having highly overweight and obese population is taking a toll on national security. The United States government ought to take a page out of Khaled Shaheen’s book (as implemented in Dubai) and more interventionist approach towards lowering rates of childhood and young adult obesity because it has negatively affected the armed forces.
According to the New York Times, not only are fewer Americans able to join the military due to obesity but a rising number of military members are also obese. Obese and overweight soldiers are more likely to become injured and often need to be replaced. In addition, soldiers who become overweight will require new uniforms. All of these conditions increase the operating cost of the military.
Congress should push through tougher school nutrition legislation that is not riddled with unhealthy concessions given to the food industry (remember the pizza as a vegetable debacle?) By lowering rates of obesity today, the government will reduce the costs associated with overweight soldiers in the future. In addition, lower rates of obesity would allow greater numbers of young Americans to join the military because many are currently unable due to military enlistment weight restrictions.
In addition to implementing better school nutrition, the United States military should also change its standards in the treatment of overweight soldiers. Currently, active duty soldiers pass regular fitness tests and weight checks. However, because these checks and tests are so regular, soldiers are able to lose weight using unhealthy crash diets leading up to the checks. Afterwards, they rapidly gain the weight back.