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Obesity is recognized as a public health crisis with serious medical and economic consequences, but the prospect of Journal of Education in Nutrition and Behaviorpublished by Elsevier, describes how the effects of obesity also affect the U.S. military.

“This is a complex issue that has a profound impact on national security by limiting the number of recruits available, reducing re-enrollment candidates and potentially reducing mission readiness,” said correspondent Sarah Polis, Ph.D., Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Nutrition College of the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Additional, topical issues include changing demographics military and food security in military families. ”

The link between the nation’s health and national security was discovered in 1946, when the National School Lunch Program was adopted to combat World War II malnutrition. This was at a time when limited calories per day were available in U.S. food stocks. Today, the concern about poor nutrition is not so relevant. Instead, a drastic enrichment of calories in the diet and an increase in portion sizes, among a number of other factors, contributed to weight gain and thus reduced the number of men and women who would otherwise be eligible for conscription. Since 1960, the percentage of conscripts who have the right to work in excess of the military body fat percentage has doubled for men and tripled for women.

These statistics have prompted military leaders to call for changes in diet and nutrition, including initiatives in schools to eliminate less healthy food and increase the use of free and discounted lunch programs. Another solution could be training in nutrition in the armed forces themselves.

Co-author Sarah Polis, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Nutrition, University of Kentucky Medical College, talks about the complex problem of obesity affecting the U.S. military. Credit: Journal of Education in Nutrition and Behavior

“Instructor sergeants are important and important leaders in the armed forces for training, advising, mentoring and training new soldiers,” explains the police doctor. “This perspective draws on previous research that illustrates that accurate nutrition information and behavior modeling can have a strong impact on recruits.”

Co-author Nicole Rupert, MSc, Department of Pharmacology and Nutrition Sciences, University of Kentucky Medical College, notes: “Other leaders, including commanders and non-commissioned officers, also play an important role in disseminating information and modeling behavior and can have ongoing impact outside of basic training ”.

The changing demographics of today’s basic training regiments include a higher percentage of women and racial / ethnic groups. These are populations that experience higher levels of obesity but also higher levels of food insecurity. Inadequate access to healthy food can lead to obesity as well as anxiety and other mental health problems, further threatening military retention and mission readiness.

“Despite the efforts of the U.S. government and the Department of Defense, obesity continues to affect the military and the risks for national security it’s great, – emphasizes the doctor of police. – Research to identify best practices will take into account the diversity of the armed forces, the importance of access to healthy food and the possibility of support food education through informed leadership ”.


Strengthening school lunch standards has improved the prognosis of obesity for low-income children


Additional information:
The battle of the American military with obesity, Journal of Education in Nutrition and Behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jneb.2022.12.003

Citation: Obesity threatens US military readiness (2022, May 6) obtained May 6, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-obesity-threatens-military-readiness.html

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