Mess Hall Makeovers Help Obese U.S. Army to Slim Down

I’d like to nominate America as a candidate to participate in The Biggest Loser 15. But if they’re too busy, maybe the U.S. Army could fill in, considering our troops’ swelling obesity rate is now a national security concern. Apparently, as U.S. citizens ascend toward new heights of corpulence, so goes the armed forces.

The army has historically had stringent fitness demands, and “boot camp” is synonymous with hellacious physical exertion, so the weight gain can’t be for lack of trying. From 1992 to 2007, more than 24,000 soldiers were discharged for falling short of the Army’s weight standards.

Fortunately, the U.S. Army’s Military Nutrition Division may have an answer. In a recent intervention conducted at five dining halls on Fort Bragg, N.C., researchers found that replacing foods heavy in fat and sugar with fruit, veggies, whole-grains, and lean meat significantly improved the nutritional health of the soldiers and led to weight loss. “Go for Green” placards with nutritional information were placed around the mess halls to incentivize the soldiers.

The study concluded that simply nudging soldiers toward the available healthy dining options positively affected their health. Instilling healthy long-term eating habits is much more effective than the Ex-lax diet or starvation that has become quite common amongst our troops.

Of those soldiers discharged, they cite injuries and overly strenuous fitness tests as reasons for the current crisis. In 2010, we reported the drastic measures soldiers were taking to meet weight requirements and in turn, sustain employment.

“I, for one, can attest that soldiers are using liposuction, laxatives and starvation to meet height and weight standards,” revealed an anonymous soldier to the Army Times. No one can blame these brave men and women for doing whatever it takes to keep their jobs, but the toll that surgery and starvation takes on the body is dangerous. Options like the improved offerings in mess halls is an approach that will not only inspire better health for themselves, but extend to their families, too.

Here’s to hoping our servicemen and women continue to achieve their weight loss goals the right way, because they wouldn’t like Jillian Michaels when she’s angry.

Also Read: 

10 Ways We’d Improve the US Navy’s Fitness 

Josh Hutcherson’s Intense Hunger Games Military-Inspired Workout  

Making the Weight: Military Weight Standards

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