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Obesity Among Active Duty Service Members Increased 61% between 2002 and 2011…and it’s Impacting Recruitment

Did you hear the news? The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) has released the 2017 Annual Report to Congress: Providing the Science to Support Military Readiness and Resilience.


The report highlights ways CPSTF recommendations can be used to support the readiness and resilience of the U.S. Armed Forces, improve the health of our military communities, and increase the population of young people who are eligible for military service.

Particular emphasis is placed on the challenges to military readiness of obesity, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol use. Consider the following:

  • Obesity among active duty service members increased 61% between 2002 and 20111, and is impacting recruitment, as the Pentagon projects that by 2030, 64% of potential recruits will not qualify for service because of their weight.2
  • Tobacco use has been implicated in higher dropout rates during and after basic training, poorer visual acuity, and a higher rate of absenteeism in active-duty military personnel, in addition to a multitude of health problems.3
  • In 2015, there were nearly 59,000 instances when service members were unable to deploy due to alcohol misuse. This cost the Department of Defense approximately $35 million in lost productivity.4

communityguide.JPGCPSTF’s 2017 Annual Report to Congress features examples of how the Department of Defense, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps have implemented CPSTF-recommended intervention approaches and improved health and safety among service members and their families. The report also identifies important evidence gaps researchers, evaluators, and funders may choose to address, as well as priority areas for future CPSTF work.

This report will be of interest to anyone who works with military populations—from Pentagon officials and base commanders to healthcare providers in surrounding communities. When CPSTF recommendations are used—both on and off base—active duty and reserve personnel, their families, and their communities are healthier and safer.

As you know, the CPSTF is an independent, non-federal, nonpartisan panel of experts in public health appointed by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CPSTF helps improve the health of all Americans by identifying community preventive programs, services, and other interventions that save lives and dollars, increase longevity, and improve quality of life. In all aspects of its work, the CPSTF seeks input from partner organizations, individual policy makers, practitioners, scientists, and businesses.

Please visit the Community Guide’s website to read the full report and access additional supporting materials.