Study claims physically fit military recruits are hard to find – especially in the South AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
In this Wednesday, May 16, 2012 photo, Afghan National Army soldiers train with their M16 rifle at a firing range at the 203 Thunder Corps base in Gardez, Paktia province, Afghanistan. A disturbingly high number of so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, a U.S. military term for Afghan soldiers killing their NATO counterparts, has resulted in 35 deaths in 2011 and 22 so far in mid 2012. Col. Asif Khan Saburi, in charge of training army recruits in five provinces, said the increase in attacks prompted a ban on international soldiers being at firing ranges. In May 2011, a U.S. Army team led by a behavioral scientist released a 70-page survey that revealed both Afghans and American soldiers hold disturbingly negative perceptions of the other. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

A study published last week reportedly found states in U.S. southern produced recruits less healthy than in other areas of the nation.

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Published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, according to its text, the study measured traits like cardiorespiratory health and body mass index (BMI), as well as the number injured during basic training.

Using data on recruits from 2010 to 2013, researches reportedly found a group of states across the South, where the military typically draws a large number of recruits, came in poor shape.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas made the ‘shapely’ cut:

“This has a real impact on national security,” Daniel Bornstein, a lead researcher on the study, said in an interview.

In addition to poorer physical fitness, the study found recruits from the above states also came to join the service more prone to injury than their counterparts from other states.

According to the CDC, this reflects the national trend of obesity rates being higher in the South, with rates as much as 35 percent higher in some areas, including Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Houston formerly topped the list of the nation’s fattest cities, but since shed the image – and pounds.

The military reportedly encountered this problem in the past, with only about 50 percent of young people qualified to join around WWII, but this number since dropped to 23 percent, according to USA Today.

According to the study’s authors, analysts believe solving this problem could be an issue of framing, with their conclusion reading as follows:


Advocacy efforts aimed at active living policies, systems, and environmental changes to improve population health often fail. However, advocating for active living policies to improve national security may prove more promising, particularly with legislators.

In other words, “Get fit, its good for public health!” may not drive beneficial public policy, as much as “Get fit, its a matter of national security!” might inspire.

Other recommendations from the report included infrastructure changes to encourage walking, like more sidewalks, and incorporating physical education into more school curricula.

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Shape up to ship out, y’all.

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