Epidemic pounds drive 10,000 US Army soldiers into obesity

In fiscal year 2022, the Army missed its recruiting goal for the first time, falling short by 15,000 recruits, or a quarter of the requirement. That’s largely because three-quarters of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible for military service for several reasons, including being overweight. Being overweight is the biggest single disqualifier, affecting more than 1 in 10 potential recruits, the report found.

“It’s devastating. We have a dramatic national security problem,” Cheney said.

Being overweight can make it difficult for service members to meet basic athletic requirements, which vary by military branch. In the Army, for example, if soldiers fail the Army Combat Readiness Test, a recently updated competency standard, it can lead to probation or the end of their military career.

Kohlmus and his team analyzed the medical records of all active-duty Army soldiers in the Military Health System Data Repository, a comprehensive archive. They looked at two periods: before the pandemic, from February 2019 to January 2020, and during the crisis, from September 2020 to June 2021. They excluded soldiers without complete records in both time periods and those who became pregnant within the previous year or so. study.

Of the remaining roughly 200,000 soldiers, the researchers found that nearly 27 percent, who were healthy before the pandemic, were overweight. And almost 16 percent of those who were previously overweight became obese. Before the epidemic, about 18 percent of soldiers were obese. by 2021 it has risen to 23 percent.

The researchers relied on the standard BMI, or body mass index, a calculation of weight and height used to classify weight status. A person with a BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy, while a BMI below 25 to 30 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is classified as obese. Some experts argue that BMI is a flawed measure that cannot account for muscle mass or underlying health conditions, although it remains a widely used tool.

In Murillo’s case, his BMI reached almost 32 during the pandemic. The North Carolina Army soldier knew he needed help, so he reached out to a military dietitian and began rigorous exercise through the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness, or H2F, program.

“We do two runs a week, 4 to 5 miles,” Murillo said. “One morning I wanted to quit, but I hung in there.”

Slowly, over months, Murillo was able to reverse the trajectory. His BMI is now just over 27, which meets Defense Department standards, Kohlmus said.

Source link