“We have an issue of increasing obesity within the civilian population, [and] a history of poor nutritional choices, both in the civilian and military populations that’s affecting readiness,” said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
Woodson said that around 30 percent of potential military candidates aged 17 to 24 can’t enter because they’re overweight. The military also discharges around 1,200 candidates each year.
“This is really a national security issue if we’ve got a population of youth that could serve in the military, but can’t serve because of weight standards,” he added.
The Defense Department has not updated its menu standards in almost 20 years, noted Woodson, who added, “We know so much more about good nutrition and how to prevent disease” than ever before.