2:38pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Health and Welfare

Obesity is the Leading Cause of Military Ineligibility

Between 1998 and 2010, CNN reports, the number of active-duty military personnel deemed overweight or obese more than tripled. In 2010, 5.3 percent of the force -- or 86,186 troops -- received at least a clinical diagnosis of overweight or obese, according to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. The trend has prompted the Pentagon to re-examine its training programs, and it is now actively weeding out soldiers deemed unfit to fight. It is also a tidy way to trim the budget at the same time as federal cuts loom. (CNN photo)

During the first 10 months of this year, 1,625 soldiers were dismissed for being out of shape. That's  about 15 times the number discharged for that reason in 2007 at the peak of wartime deployment, CNN reports. Overweight are considered "substandard" fighting units and a threat to national security and the nation' ability to maintain an adequate defense. Obesity is now the leading cause of ineligibility for those wishing to join, say military officials.

Kentucky ranks 34th in state recruitment rates. The numbers -- as a percentage of the recruits per 100,000 youth aged 18-24 -- dropped steadily from 2007, when it was 2.53 percent, to 2010, when it was 1.94 percent. Perhaps the state's high obesity rate was a reason. (Read more)