As the Air Force struggles to meet recruitment standards, the military branch has now announced that it will take new recruits with a higher body fat percentage as men can join with up to 26 percent body fat, a 6 point increase, and women can join with 36 percent body fat, an 8 percent increase.
According to Fox News, Air Force Recruiting Service spokeswoman Leslie Brown said, "The Air Force is looking to open the aperture on qualifying a broader pool of young Americans for service in the Air Force. These changes bring the Air Force in line with DOD policy."
"While recruits will be allowed to join with greater body fat percentages, they will still be expected to meet the same fitness standards as everyone else to stay in the service. That means meeting the waist-to-height ratio requirement the Air Force announced in January and implemented this month," Brown added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American obesity is "impacting national security" and reported that one-third of American youth between the ages of 17 and 24 are too heavyset to join the military.
71 percent of young Americans were fit enough to serve in 2018.
Obesity within the service has also increased. In 2015, 16 percent of active-duty members of the service were obese and that number increased to 19 percent by 2020.
According to the CDC, "Among the young adults who meet weight requirements, only 3 in 4 report physical activity levels that prepare them for challenges in basic training."
Brown said the change was "just one of several initiatives being worked by a cross functional team to be able to reach a bigger pool of candidates without lowering our standards of recruiting the best Americans to serve our nation."
Brown said, "youth now live a more sedentary lifestyle than before – we can take those new recruits and can promote physical fitness and overall healthier living decisions into their everyday routines as Airmen."
In March, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said that his military branch was going to miss their recruitment goals by 10 percent in 2023. The Air Force almost missed their recruitment goals and started letting in delayed-entry applicants to meet their threshold.
US Army Lt. Gen Mark Herling said, "The military has experienced increasing difficulty in recruiting soldiers as a result of physical inactivity, obesity, and malnutrition among our nation’s youth."
The Daily Mail reports that the Defense Department spends approximately $1.5 billion in health care costs over issues related to obesity for service members.
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