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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE October 20, 2010

Doctors Suggest Plant-Based Diet to Slim Down Overweight Military Recruits

WASHINGTON—The nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is offering military recruitment centers free copies of its Vegetarian Starter Kit, after a recent report said America’s national security is threatened because too many potential recruits are too overweight to enlist.

“It is not too late for the overweight young people showing up at your recruiting stations,” PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., writes in a letter to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Instead of turning away a quarter of your potential recruits because they are too heavy, why not arm them with information on how to improve their health? Then schedule them for a return visit at a later date.”

A study by Mission: Readiness, an organization made up of retired generals, admirals, and other senior members of the U.S. Armed Forces, found that more than 27 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are too overweight to enroll in the military. Being overweight or obese is the leading medical reason why hopeful candidates are turned down by military recruiting centers, the study revealed.

PCRM has designed a special edition of its Vegetarian Starter Kit for distribution at military recruitment centers. The kit’s cover depicts an overweight man clutching a cheeseburger and eyeing a trimmer, fitter reflection of himself, apple in hand, and dressed in a military uniform. It offers an easy, three-step way to go vegetarian, as well as advice on topics like achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, changing regular meals into low-fat vegetarian meals, and the new four food groups.

Another study released this month by researchers at Cornell University says obesity costs the military billions of dollars in job absenteeism and health care spending, and has been linked to poor performance.

The benefits of a vegetarian diet are well-documented: Switching to a plant-based diet speeds up weight loss and lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, among other health benefits.

For a copy of the letter and the Military Vegetarian Starter Kit or to speak with Susan Levin, please contact Vaishali Honawar at 202-527-7339 or at

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Vaishali Honawar

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

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