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Overweight and obesity trends among active duty military personnel: a 13-year perspective.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Undetermined

Sponsoring Office:

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Undetermined

Release Date/Publication:

Principle Investigator Status: Industry

Primary DoD Data Source: Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey

Secondary DoD Data Source:


The U.S. population has shown increasing rates of overweight and obesity in recent years, but similar analyses do not exist for U.S. military personnel. It is important to understand these patterns in the military because of their impact on fitness and readiness.

To assess prevalence and trends in overweight/obesity among U.S. service members and to examine the associations of sociodemographic characteristics, exercise, depression, and substance use with these patterns.

Analyses performed in 2013 used five large population-based health-related behavior surveys conducted from 1995 to 2008. Main outcome measures were overweight and obesity among active duty military personnel based on BMI.

Combined overweight and obesity (BMI≥25) increased from 50.6% in 1995 to 60.8% in 2008, primarily driven by the rise in obesity (BMI≥30) from 5.0% to 12.7%. For overweight, military women showed the largest increase. For obesity, all sociodemographic groups showed significant increases, with the largest among warrant officers, senior enlisted personnel, and people aged 36-45 years. Adjusted multinomial logit analyses found that service members aged 26 years and older, men, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics, enlisted personnel, married personnel, and heavy drinkers had the highest risk both for overweight and obesity.

Combined overweight and obesity in active duty personnel rose to more than 60% between 1995 and 2008, primarily because of increased obesity. The high prevalence of overweight and obesity needs attention and has implications for Department of Defense efforts to improve the health, fitness, readiness, and quality of life of the Active Forces.


Reyes-Guzman CM, Bray RM, Forman-Hoffman VL, Williams J. Overweight and obesity trends among active duty military personnel: a 13-year perspective. Am J Prev Med. 2015 Feb;48(2):145-53.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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