Military body fat test controversy: fitness experts, doctors call for standards to be revamped

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Doctors say a number of military personnel are turning to liposuction to remove excess fat from around the waist so they can pass the Pentagon's body fat test.

Some service members say they have no other choice because the Defense Department's method of estimating body fat is weeding out not just flabby physiques but bulkier, muscular builds.

A number of fitness experts and doctors agree, and they're calling for the military's fitness standards to be revamped.

So what are the requirements? According to an article on, "On the body fat assessment, men could not have more than 18 percent body fat and women would be limited to 26 percent, the document says. To determine body fat, men would be measured around the neck and abdomen, while women would be measured around the neck, waist and hips."

Defense officials say only a small fraction of those who exceed body fat limits perform well on physical fitness tests.

The checks are designed to ensure troops are ready for the rigors of combat. Pentagon officials say the military doesn't condone surgically altering one's body to pass the test, though liposuction isn't prohibited.

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