01 November 2010

Doctors to overweight military recruits: go veg

America's obesity epidemic impacts not just the health of the average citizen; it's also a major health issue in potential military recruits.

A recent study by Mission: Readiness found that more than 27% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 fail to qualify for military service because they are overweight or obese- it is the leading reason why possible candidates are turned down. A similar study by Cornell University also found that obesity costs the U.S. military billions of dollars in health care spending and is linked to poor performance.

The best way to combat this, according to the non-profit group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is to encourage recruits to go veg.

PCRM has offered to send vegetarian starter kits to recruiting centers to distribute to potential candidates who might not be enlisted because of their health- an approach, PCRM believes, will promote weight loss in heavier recruits as well as reduce health care costs for the military. The kits offer advice on how to change regular meals into low-fat vegetarian ones and how to maintain a healthy weight.

“It is not too late for the overweight young people showing up at your recruiting stations,” PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., writes in a letter to Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Instead of turning away a quarter of your potential recruits because they are too heavy, why not arm them with information on how to improve their health? Then schedule them for a return visit at a later date.”

Knowledge is power; the more people know about the benefits of a vegetarian diet, the more we can tackle the obesity problem!

Teresa Abbate| @TheFriendlyVeg
Born and raised in NYC, Teresa is a TV producer and the blogger behind TheFriendlyVeg.com, where she believes (like a good Italian girl) that the best way to an omnivore's heart is through their stomach.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter