MCLB Albany fights obesity

Sarah Ray

Ongoing conflicts around the world may be stretching the American military thin but sometimes the troops themselves may not be thin enough.

"In our society, in general, we've just changed our eating habits, said dietitian Julie Davis. "We do quick, easy foods, we drink lots of sodas, lots of sweet tea in our area, in particular, so it's just the higher calories, higher fat foods, and the lack of exercise."

And members of the military are not immune to this national trend.

"There are instances of individuals at this installation and also the Marine Corps as a whole that are outside the weight standards or the body fat percentage standards," said 1st Lt. Sarah Ray of the USMC.

All branches of military service have individual weight and BMI requirements.

Each year, every Marine must pass a Physical Fitness Test and a Combat Fitness Test or face the calorie-counting consequences.

"The command has the decision to assign you to what's called the Body Composite Program to try to get you underweight," said Ray.

The rise in obesity has also impacted the military's ability to recruit.

"First and foremost, Marines are war fighters and we need to be able to deploy to provide security to our residents here, for all citizens of the United States," said Ray.

If you're considering joining any branch of military service and you're concerned that your weight may be a problem, start changing your lifestyle as soon as possible. Make healthier eating choices and begin an exercise program, either at home or at a local gym.

"I've even had patients come to my office and say, 'I want to join the military and they told me I need to lose weight,'" said Davis. "It is important for them to make sure they're eating healthy, that they're doing that regular exercise. So if the military is something they're interested in, that they're ready to enter it."