According to the military, yes.
The Associated Press reports that 27 percent of all young adults–that’s more than 9 million Americans ages 17 to 24–are too overweight to enlist in the military.
As I covered in my piece on the sustainable food movement, the Department of Defense is intimately linked with the National School Lunch Program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The irony of the USDA’s lunch program is this: It was started in 1946 in response to DOD complaints that recruits were malnourished and too skinny; now the complaint is that recruits are too fat and can’t even run a mile. So there’s a push to reform the system and spend the funds necessary to provide the DOD with what it needs: skinnier, healthier recruits.
I often have mixed feelings on “national security issues,” how it’s used sometimes to justify highly questionable government actions. But if the DOD can get Congress to change our insane school-nutrition policies, I can certainly get behind that.
Now if they could just get Congress to yank the USDA out of the school lunch program (now there’s a conflict of interests!) and assign it to a different agency…
UPDATE: I stumbled upon this post on Gawker, which reports that a lawsuit has been filed against Marine Corps recruiters, alleging that they caused the death of an overweight 22-year-old by forcing him to wear a “plastic suit” and work out in 100-degree-plus temperatures in order to lose weight. Gawker reports:
According to his medical records, Daniel had been found unconscious at the gym, wrapped in a plastic bag and scuba diving gear (for “better sweating”) and had been taking diet pills and diuretics to “aggressively lose weight.”