A group of retired Military leaders are expressing concern over America’s obesity epidemic. More than 1/3 of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 27% of 17 to 24-year-olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the Military, resulting in the loss of 9 million potential recruits.

In their new report, “Too Fat to Fight,” the nonpartisan group of 100 retired Generals and Admirals known as Mission: Readiness calls on the U.S. government to reduce the amount of junk foods available at schools in favor of healthier options.

“Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service,” the group says in the report. “Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight.”

Between 1995 and 2008, the Military had 140,000 individuals who showed up at recruiting centers but failed their entrance physicals because of their weight, the report said. The leaders call for a reform in how healthy habits are taught to children so they can foster a lifetime of fitness. They want Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation that bars junk food from schools, increase funding to improve the nutrition and quality of school meals, and provide children better access to programs that promote health.

“The folks that are going to enter the military in 2025 are in school right now,” Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Norman Seip told Reuters. “So it’s up to us to ensure that when those children reach the age of between 17 and 24 that they are ready or eligible to join the Military.”

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