WASHINGTON — The Army’s problem of finding physically fit recruits at a time of rising obesity in the United States is especially acute in the South — where it traditionally draws a high percentage of soldiers, a study published Wednesday finds.
Army recruits from Southern states are generally in poorer physical condition than those from other parts of the country, concluded researchers at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C.
“This has a real impact on national security,” said Daniel Bornstein, a researcher who led the study.
The regional distinction also suggests that government policy can influence fitness, and the South may be falling behind the rest of the country. “Some of the greatest public health achievements have come as the result of state-level policy change,” the study found.
Eleven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia — had among the highest rates of recruits who become injured during basic training.
The results reflect trends in the nation where Southern states generally have higher obesity rates. Adult obesity is 35% or higher in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.…