July 05, 2005

Fat Soldiers?

Interesting article of off the AP today. Military Concerned about Troops' Weight.

Weight issues plague all branches of the military, from elite Marines to the Air Force, often lampooned as the "chair force" because of its many sedentary jobs.

Thousands of troops are struggling to lose weight, and thousands have been booted out of the service in recent years because they couldn't.

However, one of the biggest worries concerns those not even in uniform yet: Nearly 2 out of 10 men and 4 out of 10 women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible, a record number for that age group.

"This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us. The pool of recruits is becoming smaller," said Col. Gaston Bathalon, an Army nutrition expert.

Unless weight rules are relaxed, "we're going to have a harder time fielding an Army," he said.

Today's soldiers are supersized, averaging 37 pounds heavier than their Civil War counterparts. Military officials say that's not all bad, because most of it is muscle, not fat, and the result of better nutrition. "Large and in charge" makes soldiers look more formidable to the enemy, they note.
And what are weight guidelines for the Army (article's focus is mostly Army and Air Force)? Article doesn't say, so I did some digging.

Here's an Excel chart. has more info. For my age group and height I'd pass.

The Excel chart shows acceptable body fat %, too, which is far more telling.

This leads to a funny story that I thought Brian already related on his blog...about his mother making weight as a Marine. I can't find it on Google, though, so here's the short version.

My mother-in-law will never be accused of weighing too much. As a young woman on her way to weigh in for the Marines, she ate several pounds of bananas (I think it was even on the back of a truck or something) on her way there. She made it in, but Brian didn't grow up around a bunch of bananas.


Posted by hln at July 5, 2005 12:40 PM | Nutrition | TrackBack

They use the horrible BMI charts.

I enlisted at 230, and dropped down to 218 running six miles a day.

My weight target, to avoid "taping", was somewhere around 196. 196? I was 185 at the age of 17 running 60-70 miles a week.

Taping is the measuring of the the waist and the hip to "calculate" body weight. It's wildly inaccurate.

Now, the Regular Army likes skinny people, and the constant running does that to you, but for Reserve and Guard units, it's a real problem.

At 29, I was in better physical shape than the 17 year old recruits - but the weight was deemed something I had to work on, which amounted to Atkins and the diuretic pills the night before.

It didn't stop me from any physical duties - I could still run 2 miles in 12 minutes, do 44 push-ups and 63 sit-ups in two minutes, but every weekend the taping sergeant looked at me and told me to lay off the pasta.

No one seemed to complain at Jefferson Barracks when we had to move artillery pieces.

Posted by: James Durbin at July 8, 2005 11:29 AM
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