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Overweight/Obesity Rates Increase in U.S. Military

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Stress and return from deployment may be among the reasons why the number of overweight and obese U.S. military personnel has doubled since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, says a Pentagon study.

The number of overweight and obese personnel increased from 34,333 (2.1 percent) in 2003 to 68,786 (4.4 percent) in 2008. The number was 25,652 (1.6 percent) in 1998, Agence France Presse reported.

The Pentagon said a 2005 poll of U.S. military personnel revealed that "stress and return from deployment were the most frequently cited reasons for recent weight gain."

The increase of weight problems among servicemen and women reflects that of the general U.S. population, where 20 percent of those ages 18 to 34 are obese, AFP reported. As in the civilian population, fast food and a sedentary lifestyle play a role in weight gain among members of the military.

"Overweight/obesity is a significant military medical concern because it is associated with decreased military operational effectiveness ... and both acute and chronic adverse health effects," the Pentagon study said.

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