Fat Soldiers Booted, Is Obesity The Real National Security Threat?

Commentary | As news fat soldiers were booted from enlistment due to skyrocketing collective American BMIs, it seemed that the contentious objectors of the 60s and 70s missed an easy dodge for the Vietnam draft — instead of jetting off to France, Mitt Romney could have just taken up a Twinkie habit.

But the news fat soldiers were booted in numbers dwarfing even those of 2007 also reveals a huge American blindspot when it comes to … well, huge Americans. We all know America is getting fatter, but what we haven’t really confronted is the effect this particular trend has on quality of life for US residents.

The story of the fat soldiers booted went viral, as we reported earlier, due to a Washington Post piece that detailed the issue in stunning numbers that unmask the fast-growing obesity problem, not unlike the pants you stored last winter that don’t even zip up now. And quite like the person who has put on a few pounds but doesn’t really see it until they’re tagged in a hideously unfortunate Facebook photo, America’s portly platoon is a lens through which we can view the staggering effects of inflated obesity rates through a very, very short-term cross-section, relatively.

National security is an issue many Americans hold dear (particularly since 9/11), and the fat soldiers booted are just one aspect where the effects of the “obesity epidemic” are felt — one that indicates if we don’t haul it in and cut the crap, the spillover will affect many areas of American life. A muffin top of side-issues, if you will.

Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman, basically said it all when she said:


“‘Our service members must be physically prepared to deploy on a moment’s notice anywhere on the globe to extremely austere and demanding conditions.”

Pictured: US troops in Afghanistan

And if they’re too fat — if we’re all too fat — that can’t be a ready resource to tap in uncertain times. But lifespans will recede, physical activity will become limited and medical costs will soar.

The fat soldiers booted are just one symptom, but the American battle against obesity and its co-morbid conditions may be a far larger threat than we care to admit.