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Pentagon Redefining Fitness Standards Because of Obesity

Pentagon Redefining Fitness Standards Because of Obesity

Marines training at Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 August 2016 08:59 PM

The Pentagon is redefining fitness standards for military personnel as it wrestles with the obesity epidemic, Military Times reports.

The new policy is expected to be published this year and will mark the first time the military has changed its fitness standards in 14 years.

The changes come as the armed services find in harder to find recruits who meet health standards and uniformed troops who do not meet standards, do not have the same readiness in case of an emergency situation, the Times notes.

The new standards aim to more accurately measure body fat totals since the old standards still relied on the "tape test" in which a cloth tape is used to measure chest and hip size. The body mass index (BMI) used for decades can improperly penalize people who lift weights and, though heavier than BMI charts allow, have lots of heavy muscle and not much fat.

Conversely, current methods can also give the OK to people who are naturally tall and thin, but who are not otherwise in good physical condition.

"We are taking a slightly different perspective on this, focusing on the health: What determinants can we identify that would relate to predispositions for injury or illness?" an unidentified defense official told the Times.

Military Times noted that the publication had challenged the tape test in 2013 by measuring 10 active-duty troops, then having them get into a hydrostatic "dunk tank," which, along with an MRI, are the best methods of getting an accurate BMI measurement.

"The results showed that the tape test was wrong — every time," according to the Times. "And in nine of the 10 cases, the tape test measured troops’ body fat percentages far higher than the dunk tank. The worst exposed a 66 percent difference between scores."

But the cost of doing such tests on every active-duty troop would be too much to undertake, the defense official said.

Others want to ensure overall health, not just meeting BMI standards.

"I don't want someone just to meet the body screening I want them to live a healthy lifestyle," said Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "That means: Don’t go for two weeks and lose a bunch of weight and use methods that are not smart or prescribed to get your body weight down or your body fat down to meet a certain standard."

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The Pentagon is redefining fitness standards for military personnel as it wrestles with the obesity epidemic, Military Times reports.The new policy is expected to be published this year and will mark the first time the military has changed its fitness standards in 14...
military, fitness, standards, changed, obesity
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2016-59-08
Monday, 08 August 2016 08:59 PM
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