LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Obesity is a growing epidemic across the country, but when it comes to the military, it's all about being fit. So, what happens when their target demographic is too fat to fight?
Soldiers endure some kind of physical fitness on a daily basis and every six months, military men and women are tested to make sure they stay fit.
You'd think it'd be easier for younger soldiers to pass these tests, but officials say that's not always the case.
"I will say only three in ten, between the ages of 17 and 24, do meet all of the qualifications," said local military recruiter, Captain Stacy Hopwood.
According to a new military study called 'Too Fat to Fight,' obesity is a growing trend among 17 to 24 year olds -- the target age group for new army recruits.
"That's creating somewhat of a challenge for us," added Hopwood.
Those already in the military have to meet certain physical demands, but when it comes to recruits, officials say it's all about building them up to a physical level. If you're overweight, chances are you won't make the cut.
"Every day it's a grind," said Sgt. Ellington Releford. He's been in the Army for 18 years and trains young soldiers every year. In most cases, he says it's tough to get them in shape.
"The 18 and 19 year olds have a hard time achieving the standards of the Army's physical fitness test. Nowadays, kids play inside more, so their bodies aren't used to the grind when they first get in," he said.
The solution: getting active, even if it means keeping new recruits inactive from military duty for a while. That means enlisting unfit military candidates into what they call the 'Future Soldier Training Program.'
"What we do is we work out with future soldiers once a week and maintain or get to a better level of physical fitness," said Hopwood.