Are Body Mass Index and Abdominal Circumference useful Indicators of Fitness Test Outcome in the British Army?

Research Paper Title

The association between obesity related health risk and fitness test results in the British Army personnel.

Background

In the British Army, fitness is assessed by a load carriage test (Annual Fitness Test, AFT) and by a three event Personal Fitness Assessment (PFA). Body composition based on body mass index (BMI) and abdominal circumference (AC) is also part of a mandatory annual assessment. This study examined the influence of BMI and AC on fitness test results within a comprehensive sample of British Army personnel.

Methods

Secondary analyse were carried out on data obtained from the 2011 Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) database for 50,635 soldiers (47,173 men and 3,462 women).

Comparisons using loglinear analysis were made between groups of individuals classified by body mass index as obese (≥30kg/m2) and not obese (<30kg/m2), and further classified using combined BMI and AC for obesity-related health risks to compare “no risk” with “increased risk.”

Results

Not obese or “no risk” soldiers had a significant relationship with success in the AFT (p<0.01) and PFA (p<0.01). Of those soldiers who attempted the AFT, 99% of men and 92% of women passed; for the PFA, 92% of men and 91% of women passed. Obese or “at risk” soldiers were more likely to fail and far less likely to take both tests (p<0.05). Compared to older obese soldiers, young obese soldiers were more likely to attempt the tests.

Conclusions

The researchers conclude that BMI and AC are useful indicators of fitness test outcome in the British Army.

Reference

Sanderson, P.W., Clemes, S.A., Friedl, K.E. & Biddle, S.J.H. (2018) The association between obesity related health risk and fitness test results in the British Army personnel. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 21(11), pp.1173-1177. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.08.003. Epub 2018 Aug 17.

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