But as a percentage of the population, fewer American youth are physically capable of fighting in the nation’s wars, fighting crime or fighting fire, as evidenced by the growing number of young people who can’t pass physical standards to become soldiers, police officers or firefighters.
As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, ‘fed’ by fast food, processed food, junk food, and everything but naturally produced food, an astounding 26.5 percent of young people in the state of Colorado cannot qualify for military service due to their weight, according to a new report from the non-profit Council for a Strong America.
In addition, the report noted, the childhood obesity epidemic in America is not just cause for concern for the all-volunteer U.S. military, which must recruit 250,000 people annually out of about 400,000 who become eligible in order to sustain congressionally-mandated personnel strength for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The figure includes both active as well as reserve components, along with the National Guard, a state-centric force that is eligible for a call-up to federal active service. It is also becoming an issue for fire and police departments around the country. (Related: Congratulations, America: Our obesity epidemic has officially hit an all-time high.)
The obesity problem, of course, isn’t just limited to Colorado. In 2015, according to the most recently available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 14 percent of American high school students were rated as obese.
The Council for a Strong America warns that the obesity epidemic, when taken together with other factors that lead to ineligibility for military, police and fire service such as tattoos and criminal records, a high percentage of youth remain outside the circle of availability.
And what’s more, Colorado is supposed to be the country’s “fittest” state.
The Daily Mail, citing the study, reported further:
The report found that a staggering 70 percent of people between 17 and 24 years of age in Colorado are ineligible to serve based on obesity, lack of education, or their criminal records.
The report also said that 71 percent of people in that age group across the nation are unfit to serve.
The report noted that weight was the top disqualifying factor in Colorado for military service, making about 30 percent of youth ineligible.
The problem has been getting worse, and military brass is well aware of it. In fact, many have begun to call the rising number of American youth ineligible for military service a national security threat.
As long ago as 2013, researchers and the Pentagon noted that the rising obesity epidemic was making it hard to fill the ranks. At the time one organization comprised of retired military leaders, Mission: Readiness, reported that 27 percent of American youth were too fat to fight.
A year earlier, HuffPost reported the same statistic.
As for police and fire departments, many of them do not have the same physical fitness entrance requirements as the military, but obviously, those jobs are very physically demanding. As such, the obesity epidemic is making it more difficult to fill police and fire department ranks as well.
The Daily Mail reported that some research suggests between 9 and 11 percent of firefighters are severely overweight, citing a report last year in FireRescue.org.
Meanwhile, the paper said, a 2014 study from the Houston School of Public Health found that as many as 70 percent of firefighters in its study were obese or otherwise overweight. And a 2011 study found that overweight firefighters were five times more likely to miss work because of an injury.
The stats for cops are no better. The paper reported that an FBI study found that eight of 10 police officers were considered obese or overweight.
Read more of J.D. Heyes’ work at The National Sentinel.