Still Too Fat to Fight: New Studies Examine the Growing Impact of Obesity on U.S. Military Recruitment

Released: 9/25/2012 10:30 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Citations Health Economics; Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy

Newswise — John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management and co-director of the Institute on Health Economics at Cornell University, has published two new studies finding a growing number of military-aged Americans are too obese to join the military.

Unfit For Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity For U.S. Military Recruitment
Health Economics, November 2012
https://cornell.box.com/healtheconomics

- As of 2007-2008, 5.7 million men and 16.5 million women exceeded the Army’s enlistment standards for weight and body fat.

- From 1959 to 2008, the percentage of military-age adults ineligible for enlistment because they are overweight more than doubled for men and tripled for women.

- The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for military recruitment and defense policy.

The Consequences of Rising Youth Obesity For U.S. Military Academy Admissions
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, December 2012
https://cornell.box.com/AEPP

- Between 1959 and 2010, African-American women were 13-percent more likely to exceed weight standards than white women, representing a challenge to the military, which strives for a racially- diverse officer corps.

- Simulations indicate that further respective increases in weight and fat of just one percent would result in an ineligibility increase of 16.5 percent for men, and a 10.9 percent increase for women for admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

- The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for military recruitment and defense policy.

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