National Security

The Army Is The Fattest Military Branch

Tim Hipps/U.S. Army

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The U.S. Army has the highest percentage of obese or overweight personnel, followed closely by the Air Force, Navy and then Marines as the fittest service branch.

Analysis of the Body Mass Index (BMI) of U.S. service members reveals that across the armed forces, the number of overweight service members has nearly doubled. More than 10 percent of all Army soldiers are overweight, up from 6.4 percent five years ago. About 9 percent of Air Force personnel are overweight, which is double the 4.3 percent reported in 2011.

In the Navy, 5.9 percent have a high BMI, up from 3.3 percent five years ago. Even the Marines’ rate of 2.3 overweight soldiers increased from 1.7 percent in 2011.

The Pentagon was slow to release obesity data for service branch after it released the overall BMI statistics last month, but officials in the military say that the specific data, obtained by Military Times, should not be taken to mean the military is not ready for combat. (RELATED: Pentagon: U.S. Troops Keep Getting Fatter And Fatter)

“Our Air Force is healthy and fit to fight, with approximately 96 percent of airmen passing the test in the past two years, which is up significantly from the 2010 pass rate of 87.6 percent,” Maj. Bryan Lewis, a spokesman for the Air Force, told Military Times. “The fitness assessment, however, is only one tool to assist in the determination of overall fitness of military personnel.” ‘

Lewis pointed out that genetic history and lifestyle choices like diet, exercise and smoking contribute to an individual’s health in addition to BMI score.

“The Army has strict physical fitness requirements and has multiple, coordinated initiatives in place designed to improve the readiness and health of the total Army,” Paul Prince, spokesperson for the Army, told Military Times. “These efforts are geared to influence culture change that best facilitates personal health readiness and creates environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.”

Compared to the rest of the U.S., the military is in much better shape than the average U.S. population. Around 70 percent of all adults in the U.S. over 20 years of age are considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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