Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obesity and Our National Security

We know it’s threatening our fiscal security through health care costs (obesity is a major contributor to and accelerator of chronic disease, which accounts for 75 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the United States each year), but did you know obesity is also threatening our national security? Do you know that since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, the obesity rate among U.S. troops has more than doubled? And do you know that combined, obesity and health-related problems, including physical inactivity, have eliminated as much as three-quarters of recruitment-age youth? Obviously, this results in a shrinking pool of eligible candidates for service.

Here’s a bit of a twist though. While we talk a lot about personal responsibility, it may be time to stop looking at obesity only as an individual personal issue, and maybe start looking at it as an issue with far reaching repercussions to our national health and safety. According to Defense Department figures provided to the AP, during the past four years 47,477 potential recruits failed to pass induction physicals because they were overweight.

So here’s what I think is a scary, and hopefully thought provoking insight. The impact on national security is real. We’re losing potential recruits to obesity, and at the same time, health care spending is now 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.

What does this say to you?

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