Almost 7 in 10 active-duty service members in the US military are either overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI), according to a white paper released by the American Security Project (ASP).
Pulling data from the US Department of Defense, the non-profit organization revealed that the figures were significantly higher than the 10.4 percent military obesity rate recorded 10 years ago.
The statistic reportedly poses a considerable problem for the US military, as obesity decreases soldiers’ combat readiness.
Based on fitness tests, active-duty service members who are overweight exhibit less speed and agility than those with normal BMIs.
They also leave the service 18 months earlier on average than soldiers of normal weight.
There are reportedly 1.4 million active military personnel in the US. The ASP report shows nearly one million are overweight or obese.
According to the white paper, the defense health agency should first consider obesity a chronic disease across the armed services to enforce proper treatment.
The military should also promote awareness of the harmful effects of obesity, especially during combat missions.
Furthermore, the ASP suggests conducting evidence-based research to establish better regulations concerning body composition and military appearance.
Service members who are obese or overweight should be referred to a credentialed obesity physician for treatment.
The US military still uses BMI to measure the body fat of its soldiers despite it being a controversial tool.
Earlier this year, the American Medical Association (AMA) admitted that the metric is “imperfect” and steeped in racist ideology.
“There are numerous concerns with the way BMI has been used to measure body fat and diagnose obesity, yet some physicians find it to be a helpful measure in certain scenarios,” former AMA president Jack Resneck, Jr. M.D. said.
“It is important for physicians to understand the benefits and limitations of using BMI in clinical settings to determine the best care for their patients.”