Many becoming too obese for U.S. military

Sept. 28, 2012 at 10:22 PM

ITHACA, N.Y., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- In 2007-2008, 5.7 million men and 16.5 million women of U.S. military age exceeded the Army's enlistment standards for weight and body fat, a researcher says.

John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management and co-director of the Institute on Health Economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., published two studies that found a growing number of military-age Americans are too obese to join the military.

From 1959 to 2008, the percentage of military-age adults ineligible for enlistment because they are overweight more than doubled for men and tripled for women, Cawley said.

The study, "Unfit For Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity For U.S. Military Recruitment," is scheduled to be published in the journal Health Economics in November.

The second study, "The Consequences of Rising Youth Obesity For U.S. Military Academy Admissions," found between 1959 and 2010, African-American women were 13 percent more likely to exceed weight standards than white women, representing a challenge to the military, which strives for a racially diverse officer corps.

Simulations indicated just 1 percent increases in weight and fat would result in an ineligibility increase of 16.5 percent for men and a 10.9 percent increase for women for admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Cawley said.

The findings are scheduled to be published in December in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

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