AMU APU Health & Fitness Military Original

Why the Obesity Epidemic Is a National Security Problem

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is labeled as an epidemic. In fact, obesity is a national security problem. One in three people between the ages of 17-24 are too overweight to serve in the military, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Obesity Can Lead to Diabetes and Other Health Problems

In the United States, 41.9% of adults are considered to have obesity, according to Trust for America’s Health. There are myriad health concerns surrounding obesity. High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes are major risks associated with being overweight.

According to the CDC, 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, which is about one in 10 people. Diabetes affects the way the human body makes or uses insulin and can cause blood sugars to spike, presenting a major health risk of going into shock.

Americans with diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar and may have to take insulin or other medications to regulate the amount of insulin within their bodies. The most common form of this illness is Type 2 diabetes, which is what about 90% of diabetics have according to

Many people are pre-diabetic, which means that their blood sugar is elevated but not to the level that would result in a diabetes diagnosis. The good news is that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes such as exercise and healthy eating. Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent Type 2 diabetes is also crucial.

Related link: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and the Reasons Why It Happens

Factors That Influence Obesity

Factors that contribute to obesity include genetics, stress, certain medications, a sedentary lifestyle and eating habits. People who are overweight often:

  • Consume fast foods high in saturated fat
  • Eat a high-calorie diet, such as foods that are high in carbohydrates (such as pasta)
  • Drinks sodas that are high in sugar
  • Consume red meat frequently

Over four million people die each year as a result of health complications associated with being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization.

Related link: Healthy Diets: Comparing Paleo, Keto and Mediterreanean

Preventing Weight Gain

To ensure a healthy weight, everyone should become educated about healthful eating habits. Consuming a diet that is high in vegetables and fruit and eating a limited amount of red meat can help to lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems associated with being overweight.

obesity healthy eating Sadulski
Eating a healthy diet high in vegetables and fruits can be helpful in preventing weight gain.

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise is also important in preventing obesity. According to the Mayo Clinic, most healthy adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week.

It’s also helpful to check your body mass index (BMI), using this calculator from the National Institutes of Health. A body mass index of over 30 is considered obese.

Employers can have a positive impact on reducing obesity by educating staff on proper diet and encouraging employees to get regular exercise. Providing time during the workday for physical activity is also a helpful strategy.

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies and has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. For more information on Jarrod and links to his social media and website, check out

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