Speaking in the House of Lords today, Lord McColl of Dulwich said: “By far and away the most serious eating disorder is the obesity epidemic which is now impinging upon the armed forces.
“Ejector seats in fighter planes are having to be modified because of obesity.”
The Tory peer and former surgeon went on:
“We may have to enlarge the escape hatches of submarines…”
Health Minister Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford said: “While I don’t feel able to comment on ejector seats or submarine hatches… I do believe that obesity is a serious issue.”
Earlier, Baroness Blackwood had been pressed over steps being taken by the Government to ensure that people suffering from an eating disorder were able to access treatment and support.
She told peers: “Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions and it is the priority of this government to ensure that everyone with an eating disorder can access quick, specialist help when necessary.”
She pointed to a reduction in waiting times for children’s eating disorder services, while a review was being carried out to look at securing future improvements to adult facilities.
Lib Dem peer Baroness Parminter said that hospital admissions in the last six years had more than doubled “whilst outpatient services for adults are under-resourced and they are unable to support people to be treated in the community.”
Data supplied under Freedom of Information rules showed that in July 2018, there were 8,662 obese service people in the Army, 4,666 in the Royal Navy and 4,274 in the Royal Air Force – the highest figures ever recorded.
“Ejector seats in fighter planes are having to be modified because of obesity”
It also revealed that 398 troops have type 2 diabetes and that, in an effort to tackle the obesity crisis, 160 personnel have been prescribed diet pills and 16 given liposuction.
In 2016, the US Navy was forced to relax its rules on body fat limits because too many sailors were being kicked out of the service after failing military physical fitness tests.