The U.S. military is getting larger — literally.
The overall obesity rate of armed forces personnel rose to 17.4% last year, up from 15.8% in 2014, according to new Pentagon data published in its Medical Surveillance Monthly Report. The obesity figure has steadily risen each of the past five years, the study shows, and the rate remains significantly higher for men than women.
The troubling figures carry real-world consequences, the report’s authors argue, including higher medical costs for overweight personnel.
“Obesity negatively impacts physical performance and military readiness and is associated with long-term health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and risk for all-cause mortality,” the study says. “Studies also suggest that healthcare utilization is higher among obese service members than their normal-weight counterparts.”
The survey followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in defining obese service members as those with a body mass index above 30.
The Navy is by far the most overweight branch of the military, according to the study. Data show that 22% of Navy personnel were classified as obese, compared to 18.1% for the Air Force and 17.4% for the Army.
The Marine Corps had by far the lowest number at 8.3%.
Older males are the most obese demographic. Men ages 35 to 44 had an obesity rate of 29.4%, the report found, while those over the age of 45 were close behind at a rate of 28.4%.
Their female counterparts had obesity rates of 21.3% and 18.5%, respectively.
The full study can be found here: https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Armed-Forces-Health-Surveillance-Branch/Reports-and-Publications/Medical-Surveillance-Monthly-Report.