Report: 25 percent of recruits too fat to fight

Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 05, 2012

NEW YORK (CNN) - According to a new report, 25 percent of potential recruits for the military are simply too fat to fight.

According to a Mission Readiness report, which set to be released later this month, 25 percent of all potential recruits are turned away because of their weight.

The problem is potentially so serious commanders of all ranks who spearheaded the study describe it as a potential threat to national security.

Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett and more than a hundred retired generals and admirals warned of the problem two years ago.

"The statistic that blows me away on that is one in four Americans is too obese, young Americans is too obese to join the military," said Barnett.

And in a new, follow-up report, Still Too Fat To Fight, leaders contend the military is working harder than ever to find eligible recruits.

In addition, many of those recruits are not fit enough to serve and protect. That means hundreds of those recruits wind up discharged early because of weight-related issues. In turn, the report shows $60 million a year are invested and lost in recruits – and finding their replacements.

Military leaders say the problem is reversible and are targeting school lunch programs and vending machines. In fact, they are looking to the success of New York City schools in regulating unhealthy food and lowering average student weight.

The study hopes to target young generations, so when the time comes, they will be combat ready.

The nation's leaders, hope to stem the childhood obesity crisis, so it does not become what they believe could be a national security crisis, too.

When Mercedes Lipscomb tried to enlist in the National Guard a decade ago, she was told she was too fat.

"I'm totally happy they didn't let in at 220 pounds," said Lipscomb. "I think I probably would have died out there."

After dropping nearly 80 pounds, she reapplied and was accepted.

"If you're sent into a combat zone you want to be in shape. You want to be able to maneuver, you want to be able to protect yourself and protect your fellow soldiers. If you're overweight, how are you going to run? How are you going to get away?" pondered Lipscomb.