A U.S. Marine of the 2nd Batallion, 1st Marines Fox Company exercises at the Amir Patrol Base's Iron yard in Lakari, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

(CBS) – Obesity, they say, poses a threat to national security.

The Pentagon spends more than $1 billion a year on medical care relating to weight and obesity. And America’s growing weight problem means finding new troops fit enough to fight has never been more challenging.

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Army recruiter Sgt. Laura Peterson says America’s growing waistline is shrinking the pool of those qualified to serve.

“I’ve definitely seen the problem getting worse,” she said. “The population has gotten bigger. They don’t move as much.”

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Among 17- to 24-year-olds, 27 percent are too overweight for military service. According to officials, over the past 50 years, the number of women considered ineligible due to weight has tripled, and the number of men has doubled.

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