Amidst a worsening military recruiting crisis, nearly 70% of active service members are now overweight or obese. Rapid and sustained recurrence of obesity poses a dire threat to operational readiness, especially for at-risk populations and those in critical combat roles. ASP’s new white paper evaluates the role of stigma and science in combating the military obesity crisis.
- 68% of active-duty service members have overweight or obesity. Obesity is the leading disqualifier of military applicants and a primary contributor to in-service injuries and medical discharges.
- Military obesity rates across active duty have more than doubled over ten years, from 10.4% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2022. Eating disorders increased by approximately 79% between 2017 and 2021.
- Despite being a chronic disease with several FDA-approved treatment options, antiquated body composition policies and stigma prevent effective treatment of obesity within the Armed Forces.
- The removal of body mass statistics from military recruitment and disability reports has resulted in incomplete and misleading conclusions. This data is needed to identify at-risk populations and design effective, evidence-based interventions.