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Navy Forced to Change Rules as Americans Gain Weight

Navy Forced to Change Rules as Americans Gain Weight
March 11
14:38 2016
As the US Navy struggles to find skilled crew members, it have decided to initiate a new rule: overweight sailors who fail the Navy’s fitness test will be given a second chance.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.13.37 PMThe second-chance body fat test will be less stringent than the first to encourage sailors to try again.
The picture at left shows Petty Officers Theresa and Lentoyi White train as they attempt to lose weight. If they fail the test a second time, they will be discharged from the Navy.

“What we’ve tried to do in this policy change – with the tenets of better health and being mission ready as the focus – is to also make sure we’re not throwing out good sailors because we can’t meet both ends of that spectrum,” explains Vice Admiral Bill Moran.

Before the rules changed, some Navy members were taking diet pills and undergoing liposuction to avoid getting kicked out.

“It’s far more realistic,” says Navy secretary Ray Mabus. “We were kicking more people out of the Navy for failing that than for drugs.” Since 2011, the number of sailors discharged from the Navy per year because they did not meet fitness standards has more than doubled. In 2014, that number reached 1,536.

The change in policy was announced in January; this week, the force announced that the 2,400 sailors who failed the original test will be allowed to take a second chance with different, easier rules. The old policy allowed for only 22% body fat in males and 33% in females (ages 17-39). The new rule allows for 26% in men and 36% in women.

Since 2011, nearly 10% of the force has failed the test at least once, most times due body fat.

bilde“It’s absurd the percentage of high school teenagers who are considered to be ‘too fat’ to join the military,” complains James Joyner, Army Officer and teacher at the Marine Corps University. “Maybe there are two problems: One, obesity, and the other that the standards are out of date and not relevant,” he suggests.

According to a 2014 study, nearly 2/3 of Americans do not qualify to enlist in the military due to obesity, health problems, and the failure to complete high school.

The way the military measures body fat is also changing. Fitness experts have long questioned the accuracy of the “tape test” – a body fat test that relies on waist and neck measurements. Three years ago, the Air Force started using BMI (Body Mass Index) in cases where pilots failed the tape test but passed the physical test. The Navy has adopted similar rules and has also launched an effort to help female sailor lose weight after giving birth.

 

 

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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