Jim Gourley explores how the American obesity epidemic might impact the military:
A new study by the Trust for America's Health predicts that more than half of Americans in 39 states will be obese by 2030. This is disturbing enough, but it becomes even more troubling for the armed forces when individual state recruitment trends are compared to their childhood obesity rates. All ten states that contributed the most military inductees in 2010 have childhood obesity rates greater than 15 percent. Three of them (including Texas, which was second in total recruitment with over 15,000 new military members) exhibit rates between 20-25 percent. The preponderance of our young military members come from the most ponderous states.
The problem is not simply one of cosmetics or intangible metrics of combat performance. The costs of an unfit military carry a real-dollar value. A 2007 joint study by The Lewin Group and TRICARE management activity estimated that the Defense Department spends $1.1 billion annually on medical care for obesity and overweight conditions.