NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Johanna Catherine Maclean

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Working Papers

September 2010Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment
with John Cawley: w16408
Excess body weight or body fat hinders performance of military duties. As a result, the U.S. military has weight-for-height and percent body fat standards for enlistment. This paper estimates the number and percent of military-age civilians who meet, and do not meet, the current active duty enlistment standards for weight and body fat for the four major armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps), using data from the full series of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that spans 1959-2008. We find that the percent of civilian military-age men and women who satisfy current military enlistment standards for weight-for-height and percent body fat has fallen considerably. This is due to a large increase in the percentage who are both overweight and overfat, which rou...

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