A new, disturbing trend is being reported on by the AP: Troops are getting liposuction so they can pass the military’s “fat test,” something that can impact promotions and rank for years to come.
Regardless of how widespread this trend may be, it should be strongly discouraged. Healthy young men and women should focus on working out and maintaining healthy lifestyles, not liposuction.
For a number of soldiers, the old drop-and-give-me-20 just isn’t enough. Instead, they’re resorting to quick surgery to pass the military’s “fat test.”
According to the AP, some members of the military are turning to liposuction as a quick fix before the test, which can affect promotions and career prospects for years to come. By comparing measurements of a soldier’s neck and waist, officials are able to come to a body fat estimate. Too much excess, and you get sent to the “pork chop platoon” — military fat camp. And if you fail the test twice more, bad luck: you’re out of the military. Although there aren’t figures for the Navy and Air Force, the number of Army members dropped for being overweight has jumped from 168 in 2008 to 1,815 last year.
Cue lipo. According to one service member, even higher-ups sometimes advise the surgery. “They’ll deny that if you ask them,” he told the AP. “But they know some people are in really good shape and unfortunately are just built wrong.” Many doctors agree and are pushing the Pentagon to change its standards to reflect the fact that bigger doesn’t always mean less healthy.
But the “tape test” has one huge advantage: it’s cheap. Right now, there’s no way to measure body fat that’s both extremely accurate and economical for large groups, and for accurate-enough measurements, nothing beats two tape measures for cost.
Things are changing: the Air Force recently got permission to allow airmen who are physically fit but who fail the tape test to be measured again with a Body Mass Index chart, which compares height and weight. But that’s not enough. Said one fitness expert, “We’re sending people away who could be amazing soldiers just because of two pieces of tape”