Unfit for fighting – British Army obesity crisis

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New figures which have been released indicate that in excess of 32000 British troops have failed a basic fitness test during the past three years. These results have increased fears of an obesity crisis within the Army.

Soldiers have to undergo a six-monthly personal fitness assessment which includes sit-ups, running against the clock and press-ups. However, the results show that 29600 males and 2819 females in the army failed the test during the past three years up to March 2014. These figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Separate figures indicated that in excess of 22000 troops were classified as being overweight and at risk of health issues.

Soldiers blamed poor diets for this problem.

The figures exclude those who have been downgraded for medical reasons, following injury. The numbers of personnel were based on ‘body composition measurements’ as the army does not make use of body mass index because it does not differentiate between muscle mass weight and body fat weight.

A soldier who gave comment stated that many of his peers maintained an ‘appalling’ diet which included daily cooked breakfasts, and chips with both lunch and dinner.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the failure rate of the tests is representative of 11% of the soldiers serving during the period and many of those who had failed will have passed the fitness test subsequently.

He added that all army personnel are given the necessary training and support to aid them in meeting the physical standards required. Those who fail to meet the criteria are offered additional aid. It is only personnel who are unable to meet the standard on a consistent basis who will be discharged.

These new figures follow a disclosure earlier during the month that many soldiers are being discharged from the Army due to weight problems.

Between January 2002 and March 2013, there were a minimum of 50 cases involving the release of soldiers due to obesity. During 2011, 13 soldiers were discharged because obesity was a contributing factor to their state of ill-health.

image Credit: isafmedia

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