(NationalSentinel) At a time when tensions are rising with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, the obesity rate across the U.S. military is growing, according to a new report that sounds the alarm.

The latest Pentagon data published in its Medical Surveillance Monthly Report notes that the cumulative obesity rate for all armed forces personnel climbed to 17.4 percent in 2018, up from 15.8 percent four years earlier, in 2014.

The report notes that the obesity rate has steadily climbed each of the past five years and is significantly higher for male troops than for females.

The authors of the report argue that the climbing rate of obesity will have real-world consequences that begin with readiness issues and include higher medical costs for the services.

“Obesity negatively impacts physical performance and military readiness and is associated with long-term health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and risk for all-cause mortality,” the study says.

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“Studies also suggest that healthcare utilization is higher among obese service members than their normal-weight counterparts.”

The survey followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to define obese service members as those with a body mass index above 30.

The service branch featuring the most overweight personnel was, by far, the U.S. Navy, according to the survey data, which showed nearly one-in-five — 22 percent — classified as being obese.

This compared to 18.1 percent for the Air Force and, surprisingly, 17.4 percent for the Army. The Marine Corps had the lowest number of overweight personnel at 8.3 percent.

Older personnel were more probe to be overweight.

Men ages 35 to 44 had an obesity rate of 29.4 percent, the report found, while those over the age of 45 were close behind at a rate of 28.4 percent.

Their female counterparts had obesity rates of 21.3 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively.

Obesity in the armed forces is surpassed by obesity rates for civilians. In fact, obesity is one of the principle reasons why potential recruits are rejected for military duty. (Related: Readiness problem: 70 percent of American youth NOT FIT to serve in military)

As far back as 2016 analysts were sounding off about the rising obesity rate in the U.S. military. The Military Times reported in September of that year on figures that, today, sound tame but were evidence of a growing problem even then.

The site noted that “7.8 percent of the military — roughly one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass-index greater than 25.

“This rate has crept upward since 2001, when it was just 1.6 percent, or one in 60,” the site reported.

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