Dunn’s Civics > Feeding the Troops

Obesity in the Army

About a third of American adults are considered obese, having a Body Mass Index greater than 30 (BMI is calculated using height and weight), and 18% of American teenagers are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Would the problem of obesity be as significant a problem for America if Home Economics was emphasized as it was in the days of your grandparents?

Would our student loan disaster have occurred? 

Would our teen pregnancy statistics be as devastating? 


In 2010, a group of retired military leaders warned that 27% of young adults (a total of nine million), ages 17 to 24, are unfit for service because they are too fat.

“This is a national security issue,” a spokesman for the group said. “We are having difficulty recruiting from the civilian population.”

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Mission: Readiness' report, "Too Fat to Fight," said that 75% of young Americans (more than 30 million) between the ages of 17 to 24 do not qualify for the military because of failure to graduate [from high school], criminal records or physical problems. The study cited Department of Defense and health data.


Does it make sense for our military leaders to decry overweight young people when their military installations have sold out their responsibility to feed their soldiers and their families to fast food conglomerates? 

Among those already serving, according to a recent Pentagon study, the number diagnosed as obese or overweight went from about 25,000 in 2001 to more than 85,000 in 2010.


Freedom Crossing shopping center in Fort Bliss, Texas (military population: 10,000), sells almost exclusively junk food.


212  Anthony’s Pizza 
223  Arby’s 
203  Baskin Robbins 
215  Burger King 
701  Buffalo Wild Wings 
213  Charley’s Grilled Subs 
1127 Dairy Queen 
221  Einstein Bros. Bagels 
231  Junga Juice 
214  Manchu Wok 
224  Sarku Japan 
1129 Shamrock’s Irish Pub 
1123 Smashburger 
225  Spudnick’s 
201  Starbucks Coffee 


What do you think about obesity in the US Army? Compare with other armies around the world. Invite an Iraq or Afghanistan vet to discuss this with the class.

Worldwide, around 1.5 billion adults are overweight and a further 0.5 billion are obese, with 170 million children classified as overweight or obese. Obesity takes up between two to six per cent of healthcare costs in many countries.