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Military obesity rates soar, compounding recruitment challenges

October 18, 2023

Mark Satter

Roll Call

Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti, U.S. Navy, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on her reappointment to the grade of admiral and to be chief of naval operations on Sept. 14, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


By Mark Satter, Roll Call / October 18, 2023

Obesity rates among active-duty servicemembers doubled in the past decade, and antiquated policies and incomplete data have complicated efforts to combat the trend, according to a new report from the American Security Project. 

Military obesity rates across the active duty jumped from 10.4 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2022, according to the study, the findings of which were released on Oct. 12. This mirrors a national trend that has shrunk the military’s recruitment pool and led to billions of dollars in associated health care costs. 

Today, 68 percent of active-duty servicemembers are either overweight or obese, and eating disorders in the military increased by approximately 79 percent between 2017 and 2021, the report said. 

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