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Unfit to serve
When it comes to perceptions of an overweight populace, most people within Denmark immediately think of countries like the US and the UK. But Denmark isn't immune to the global obesity epidemic and new numbers from the military indicate that 30 percent of all potential draftees in Denmark are unfit to serve.
“Thirty percent are either overweight or obese,” Peer Winberg Andersen, a military doctor, told DR News.
Running is one of the key activities that the overweight military hopefuls have trouble with, often succumbing to injuries sustained to their backs, knees or feet. Those that aren't fit enough are denied the opportunity of drawing a conscription ticket.
All young men in Denmark are automatically called up to attend the conscription examination, which was traditionally known as ‘session’, but is now called Forsvarets Dag (The Defence Day), when they turn 18. Those who pass the medical examination then draw a number to see if they must serve or not.
Of the 20,418 men that were called up to Forsvarets Dag in the period of July 2008 to April 2009, over 6,000 were considered unfit for military duty and consequently rejected.
“The numbers confirm that younger people are becoming more overweight. They are less active and lead more unhealthy lives. The numbers suggest that the trend is unfortunately continuing,” Andersen told Fyens Stiftstidene newspaper.
Weighing in has been a part of the Danish military conscription examination since 1947. Until 1960, only one out of a thousand Danes were deemed very overweight. In 1970, it was one out of a hundred and today it’s one out of ten.
An overweight soldier base is just one of many problems currently facing Denmark's military. The government recently proposed scrapping military service and new allegations have led to accusation that the military has tried to cover up prisoner abuse in Iraq.