Military Readiness the Issue of Term Paper

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In addition, the Marines have a much smaller force than the army.

On the other hand, the army cannot be as selective as the marines because it needs to maintain a much higher number of troops. The article explains that the army "needs 80,000 new soldiers this year and must find them in a populace that is in many ways less willing and less able to serve than earlier generations were (Mockenhaupt, 2007, pg.86)." The article explains that teenagers and young adults are overweight and less fit than any previous generation. In addition, this generation of young Americans eats more unhealthy foods, watches more television, and engages in less physical activity than previous generations. The article further asserts that this generation is "more individualistic and less inclined to join the military. And with the unemployment rate hovering near historic lows, they have other choices (Mockenhaupt, 2007, pg.86)."

Overall it is apparent that, as a result of the changes that have taken place in American society many children and adults are not as likely to join the military because they have many other options. These options include college and employment. In addition many young people are not as fit as they should be and some are even obese. This lack of exercise and physical activity in children has led to greater societal problems such as higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. This problem also poses a threat to the nation's national security because it interferes with military readiness. The next section of this discussion will provide a review of the literature.

Chapter IV - Review of Related Literature and Research

The following review of related literature and research will focus on the epidemic that is obesity and the ways in which this epidemic is affecting military readiness as it relates to the United States Armed Services. The review of the literature will include information concerning the impact of childhood and adult obesity on military recruitment, Obesity amongst Active duty Military members and how the military is addressing the issue of obesity/overweight as it pertains to military readiness. Let us begin our discussion by focusing on why people are obese and overweight.

Causes of Obesity/Overweight

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are a plethora of reasons why there are so many obese and overweight people living in America. One of the primary issues has to do with caloric intake ("Overweight and Obesity: An Overview"). In many cases, Americans are simply eating too much and not exercising enough. Increases in caloric intake can also be attributed to restaurants and fast food chains that provide large servings of everything from French Fries to macaroni & cheese. These foods are often much higher in calories than most people realize (Wang et al., 2007). This coupled with the fact that people are eating meals outside of the home at a higher rate than ever before, has led to a substantial increase in weight gain (Rashad & Grossman, 2004).

To combat this issue, there have been several proposals associated with forcing restaurant to tell customers the number of calories contained in the food. Restaurants and manufacturers of food have been dissuaded from using trans fats and some want all out bans of junk food. According to Sugarmann & Sandman (2007),

Some examples of proposed action are eliminating certain food items from school vending machines; requiring schools and workplaces to include healthier menu items; sharply restricting the inclusion of trans fats in foods prepared by food service establishments; limiting the density of fast-food restaurants near facilities where children gather; forbidding the retail sale of certain junk food to children; eliminating the advertising of sweet or high fat foods in connection with children's television programs; upgrading school lunches so that they are healthier; requiring cities to subsidize grocery stores that sell fresh fruits and vegetables in low income areas; assuring all children safe access to parks and bicycle paths; and requiring schools to increase the duration and intensity of physical education (Sugarmann & Sandman 2007, pg 1403)."

The second cause of obesity has to do with the lack of physical activity. When people are consuming large amounts
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of food but not engaging in a great deal of physical activity, weight gain is likely. In American society most people have cars, children no longer walk to school and people are more likely to spend their leisure time watching television instead of engaging in some type of physical activity ("Overweight and Obesity: An Overview").

There are also issues related to genetics and environment. For instance, African-Americans and Hispanics are much more likely to be overweight and suffer from certain conditions as a result of cultural norms as it pertains to the foods they tend to consume ("Overweight and Obesity: An Overview"). In cases of both of these groups their diets often contain a great deal of starchy foods. In addition, portions are often too large.

Overall, most people who are overweight or obese can reverse their conditions with a few lifestyle changes.

Indeed, in most cases these conditions and the ailments that they cause are both preventable and reversible. Now that we have garnered a greater understanding of the causes of obesity let us focus on the impact of childhood and Adult obesity on Military Recruitment.

The impact of childhood and Adult obesity on Military Recruitment

Childhood Obesity

In recent years the problem of childhood obesity has come to the forefront. The obesity epidemic is so pervasive that it can not be ignored. By all accounts American children are extremely overweight and often suffer from obesity. In fact, according to Anderson & Butcher, (2006)

In the United States obesity rates have increased for all age groups over the past thirty years. Figure 1 shows the share of the U.S. population, by age group, that is obese based on the BMI cutoffs described above. (7) During 1971-74 about 5% of children aged two to nineteen years were obese. By 1976-80 the share obese was slightly higher, but between 1980 and 1988-94 the share obese nearly doubled. By 1999-2002 nearly 15% of U.S. children were considered obese. Although the rates of obesity were higher for older children in every survey, all age groups showed an increase in obesity. Rates for boys and girls were nearly identical. Adult obesity also steadily increased, with the share of adults defined as obese larger than that of children in any given time period. Obesity rates increased for both men and women, though women had higher rates than men (Anderson & Butcher, 2006)."

Understandably any increases seen in childhood obesity are directly correlated to increases in adult obesity (Anderson & Butcher, 2006). In fact, children who are obese are much more likely than normal weight children to suffer from obesity as adults. This trend can even be seen in very young children who usually have higher rates of obesity when they become adults (Anderson & Butcher, 2006). The authors explain that one study conducted in the latter part of the 1990s reported that 52% of obese children between three and six years of age are obese by the age of twenty-five (Anderson & Butcher, 2006). However, only 12% of normal and underweight three- to six-year-old children were obese by the age of 25 (Anderson & Butcher, 2006). Some of the most recent statistics for childhood obesity (adolescents 6-19) years of age released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are as follows.

This table shows a considerable increase in the percentage of obesity children from 1970 until 2004. This increase is proof that there is a significant increase in the amount of obese and overweight children living in the United States. It also appears that the highest percentages of children who are obese are African-American and Hispanic. In addition boys are more likely to be obese than are girls. It is also apparent that children living in poverty are more likely to be obese than children who are not living in poverty.

In addition to obesity, a significant number of children are also overweight. The amount of overweight children in America has increased significantly over the past 40 years. This Increase can be seen in the following graph provided by Discovery Health ("Prevalence of Overweight").

As you can see from the graph, the number of overweight 6 to 11-year-olds from 1963 until 1970 was only 4%. In addition the number of overweight 12 to 19-year-olds was 6% during this same 7-year period. However by the year 2000 the number of overweight children in both age ranges was equivalent and had increased to 15%.

According to Dalton (2004) the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona has referred to the increase in the amount of childhood obesity as a serious threat to national…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, P.M., & Butcher, K.F. (2006). Childhood Obesity: Trends and Potential Causes. The Future of Children, 16(1), 19+.

Body Mass Index.

Belkin D. (February 20, 2006) Struggling for recruits, Army relaxes its rules: Fitness, education, age criteria change. The Boston Globe Retrieved March 16, 2008 from;

Daniels, S.R. (2006). The Consequences of Childhood Overweight and Obesity. The Future of Children, 16(1), 47+.

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