80% Of Veterans Are Obese? Really?

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Did you know that 75-84% of OIF/OEF veterans are considered overweight/obese in the years following discharge from military service?

It’s likely because veterans typically pick up unhealthy lifestyles during the reintegration process. They may stop exercising and increase nicotine and alcohol use, which leads to rapid weight gain.

It’s understandable. After years of getting up early and rolling in the wet grass for PT, you’re sick of it and vow to be done. You’re sick of being told what to do and what to eat, so you do whatever you want (or don’t do whatever you don’t want).

This weight gain is bad for your physical health, no doubt. As such, veterans are significantly affected by obesity and related cardiovascular conditions (like coronary artery disease and strokes), more-so than their civilian counterparts.

However, that’s not the only problem. Physical, mental, and emotional health issues can often occur together. As your physical health gets worse, you may be more prone to darkening moods and any symptoms from health challenges you might experience can actually feel like they are getting worse. Not to mention the feelings of loneliness and social isolation many veterans experience.

The solution takes work.

Regular exercise is an activity that not only affects your physical health (that’s already a good thing), but it also positively affects well-being, including management of depressive and anxiety symptoms and recovery from alcohol and substance use disorders.

Furthermore, exercise is correlated with things like increased perseverance, positivity, resilience, and self-esteem.

Be honest – could you use a little more of the above in your life?

That’s why physical activity is a cornerstone of what we do at Team RWB. There’s strong evidence that it’s effective in preventing and managing many forms of chronic disease and disability, improving sleep quality, and extending longevity.

We have a great way to get started. From now through July 4th, Team RWB is hosting the 1776 Challenge. It’s an 18-day opportunity to get moving. It’s free to join thousands of your fellow veterans in getting active.

Don’t worry, we have tons of ways to keep you moving throughout the year— just check out teamrwb.org to find your local chapter.


Note: This article pulls from themes originally discussed in the manuscript on the Enriched Life Scale here. References and underlying data are contained there as well.