US Soldiers Booted for Failing Military Fitness Tests

Growing ranks of the U.S. Army are no longer fighting fit – they’re fighting fat, the Washington Post reports.

The military is weeding out overweight soldiers and recruits to trim its budget and address what it called a national security concern, according to the paper. Through October, the Army had dismissed 1,625 soldiers this year for failing fitness requirements – 15 times the number dismissed in 2007.

Former Navy SEAL Stew Smith, a military fitness expert, told the Post that most cases of excessive weight among soldiers are due to large food portions and a sedentary lifestyle. (For more, read the full story in the Washington Post.)

But some soldiers’ families say they are being unfairly targeted after serving their country, while others point to the nationwide obesity epidemic’s toll on potential military recruits.

A 2010 Cornell study reported by CBS looked at the prevalence of out-of-shape potential recruits. The share of military-age men who couldn’t meet the enlistment standard for body weight doubled over the previous 50 years, while the percentage tripled among women, the study found. The Americans unfit for duty in 2007 and 2008 could form their own army: 5.7 million men and 16.5 million women.

In 2010, the Army overhauled its training program to include yoga and pilates, in part to address the domestic battle of the bulge, the New York Times reported. Recruits’ failure to meet fitness and weight standards was the No. 1 reason for rejection of enlistment at the time, the paper said, and remains so today, according to the Post.

“This is not just an Army issue,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told the Times in 2010. “This is a national issue.”

The Army launched a pilot physical fitness exam that included a shuttle sprint, standing long jump 1.5-mile run and pushups, as it considered replacing the traditional test of pushups, situps and 2-mile run, the Associated Press reported in August.

The U.S. military’s biggest branch last year unveiled a combat-readiness test that includes obstacle course running, running with a rifle, and moving sandbags on sleds to simulate pulling a fallen comrade of a battlefield, according to reports.

Source: Dicker, R. (2012) Overweight Soldiers Booted For Failing Military Fitness Tests: Report. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/overweight-soldiers-military-fitness-test_n_2277893.html> [Accessed: 07 June, 2013].

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