Weight-Loss Drugs For US Service Members Has Drastically Increased

A recent study revealed that the number of members of the U.S. Armed Forces taking drugs to lose weight has drastically increased.

On Feb. 15, 2024, a military-based independent publication, Stars and Stripes, reported on the study, posted in the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.

The study showed that the number of weight-loss drug prescriptions for U.S. troops has increased 100-fold since 2018.

“Use of weight loss medications will likely continue to increase due to the ongoing epidemic in the U.S.,” researchers said in the study, with obesity in the U.S. military skyrocketing.

The Federalist pointed out that obesity has risen from over 16% of individuals in the U.S.

Armed Forces to almost 19% in 2021. About 67% of adults in America were classified as either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC estimates that the Pentagon spends a whopping $1.5 billion in health costs relating to obesity, losing nearly 700,000 workdays yearly because of the issue. In 2018, the Department of Defense (DOD) allowed U.S. military members to choose between four weight-loss drugs.

With the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, weight gain became common, with nearly 100,000 armed service members becoming obese. Prescriptions for weight-loss drugs jumped from seven in January 2018 to 816 in June 2023.

In 2023, Army Maj. Nolan Johnson wrote an article for ArmyTimes titled “Why the Army can’t get in shape.” In summary, the military official blamed the issue on “Dip, Doritos and drinking.”

“On every base, [the Army and Air Force Exchange Service] AAFES offers tobacco at state minimum prices, deals on candy bars, and alcohol without tax,” Johnson wrote. “Soldiers can either embrace these cheap, unhealthy options or take a 30-minute trip off-post to find healthy options that cost a premium.”

“The results are obvious,” he added. “For a force pressed on time and money, 2-for-1 Monster energy drinks, discounted hot dogs, and chewing tobacco are the regular lunch plan.”

Obesity in the U.S. military has become a grave issue for recruitment, which has plummeted in past years. In 2023, the American Security Project released a report blaming being overweight as the “greatest single disqualifier” for military eligibility.