John Moore/Getty
April 22, 2015 03:35 PM

The biggest threat to America’s national security may not be nuclear weapons or terrorist organizations, but its citizens’ unhealthy diets.

“Just under three in 10 young people [ages] 17 to 24 can join the Army today – and the other armed services for that matter – and the single biggest disqualifier is obesity,” Major General Allen Batschelet of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command told CNN. “Ten percent of them are obese and unfit to the point that they can’t join the service. It’s really very worrisome.”

Currently, more than one third of adults in the U.S. are obese, according to the Journal of American Medicine, and studies show that obesity rates are increasing.

“The obesity issue is one of the most troubling because the trend is going in the wrong direction,” says Batschelet. “Ten percent are disqualified today, and we think by 2020 it could be as high as 50 percent, which would mean only two in 10 would qualify to join the Army.”

According to the major general, this could pose a real risk to the country’s ability to defend itself.

“I don’t know that it’s fair to call it a crisis just yet, but I think it’s quickly approaching one,” he says. “It really becomes a nation security issue.”

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