NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 6, 2005

America's military recruits are struggling with weighty issues, says the Dallas Morning News, as many are not qualified to join the Armed Forces due to being overfat and unfit.

After World War II, concerns arose that many potential recruits out of high school were too malnourished to fight, hence prompting the beginning of the school lunch program. Now some recruits have had to lose as many as 100 pounds in order to be eligible for service, says one recruiter.


  • Almost 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible.
  • Today's soldiers weigh an average of 37 pounds more than Civil War soldiers, but most of it is muscle due to better nutrition.
  • In 2002, however, over 3,000 people were dismissed from all branches of military for failing weight standards.

In a survey of 1,435 troops at Ft. Bragg Hospital, about 75 percent did doctor-recommended methods of losing weight: eating less, exercising more, and consuming more fruits and vegetables. However, some recruits resorted to drastic measures to lose weight:

  • Almost 50 percent tried using rubber suits or saunas to sweat off pounds.
  • About 20 percent tried laxatives.
  • Some 11 percent of women and 6 percent of men tried vomiting.

Source: Marilynn Marchione, "The Battle of the Bulge," Associated Press, Honolulu Advertiser, August 28, 2005.

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