The Air Force recently eased its body fat requirements for new recruits amid struggles to meet its yearly active-duty recruiting goal.
Air Force Recruiting Service spokesperson Leslie Brown told Fox News Digital that male recruits can now have up to 26% body fat, while female recruits can have up to 36%. Previously, males were required to have no more than 20% body fat and females 28%.
In March, Military.com reported that the Air Force is on track to fall short of its active-duty recruiting goal this year by 10%, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. In order to meet last year's goal, the military branch enlisted delayed-entry applicants.
Brown stated that the Air Force hopes that by loosening requirements, it will be able to tap into a larger pool of potential recruits.
"The Air Force is looking to open the aperture on qualifying a broader pool of young Americans for service in the Air Force. These changes bring the Air Force in line with DOD policy," Brown stated. "While recruits will be allowed to join with greater body fat percentages, they will still be expected to meet the same fitness standards as everyone else to stay in the service. That means meeting the waist-to-height ratio requirement the Air Force announced in January and implemented this month."
According to Brown, a cross-functional team with the Air Force is implementing several initiatives intended to broaden the candidate pool "without lowering our standards of recruiting the best Americans to serve our nation."
"We are recruiting today's generation, not my generation who joined more than 30 years ago, where a tattoo may have been taboo but is now a societal norm," Brown added. "Or where youth now live a more sedentary lifestyle than before – we can take those new recruits and can promote physical fitness and overall healthier living decisions into their everyday routines as Airmen."
Brown anticipates that the eased body fat requirements will allow up to 100 more recruits to join the Air Force monthly.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mark Herling noted that all military branches are having difficulty meeting recruiting goals.
"The military has experienced increasing difficulty in recruiting soldiers as a result of physical inactivity, obesity, and malnutrition among our nation's youth," Herling said.
In January, the Army announced that it would expand its pre-basic training course to all candidates who do not meet the weight and aptitude requirements to enlist.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity among young Americans is "impacting national security." The CDC reported that one out of every three individuals between 17 and 24 do not meet the military's weight requirements.
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!