A 2005 U.S. Department of Defense study on troop health and attitudes
showed some disturbing trends. While 66 percent of service personnel were
satisfied (or very satisfied) with their jobs, 62 percent were also overweight.
Ten years earlier, 51 percent were overweight. At the same time, the military
will discharge troops who are fat. A fair amount of leeway is given. For
example, the U.S. Navy does not consider a five foot, nine inch male in danger
of discharge at long as they weigh no more than 186 pounds. That is about
twenty pounds more than the "desirable" weight. The navy, and the other
services, also use Body Fat Standards (what percentage of an individuals weight
is fat). For the navy, its 22 percent for men, and 33 percent for women. All
services have also learned to cope with very muscular individuals. People like
this, usually guys, really stand out in person. No way these fellows are "fat,"
they are just big, and intimidating. Just the sort of person you'd want on your
side. But on paper, these people are often classified as overweight, too
overweight to stay in. After several embarrassing incidents, the regulations
have been amended to recognize the muscular troops for what they are (big, but
the troops are putting on the pounds. Part of it is stress. There's a war going
on, and "comfort food" works in a combat zone. That's just as well, because in
today's combat zones there's no alcohol, and no sexual activity with the locals
(well, it's energetically discouraged). There's also an ongoing campaign to
discourage smoking, and a regular testing program to make illegal drugs career
suicide. What's an anxious troop to do? Eat. There's plenty of food, and more
of it is fattening (more sugar, more fat and larger portions). Thus 45 percent
of troops under twenty are overweight, compared to 28 percent in 1995.
the military has always been stressful. While 63.6 percent of troops in 2005
said their lives were stressful, the 1995 response was 62.6 percent. Part of
the stress now comes from troops putting on enough pounds that they have to
worry about getting tossed out for being fat.