Pentagon should drop tape test
Doctors and medical professionals are calling on the Pentagon to reconsider their fitness standards, which are leading some members to undergo liposuction to meet the requirements.
The Associated Press says the Pentagon’s body fat tests, known as “tape tests,” rely on measurements from the neck and waist rather than the body mass index, which is based on a person’s height and weight.
If military members fail the test, they must spend months in a vigorous diet and exercise program. Fail it three times, and they are expelled from the military. The actual number of people who have been kicked out due to this measure is small, according to AP. For the Marines, 132 people were expelled last year, while in the Army, it was 1,815. Numbers for the Air Force and Navy weren’t available.
Opponents to the tape test, including doctors and fitness experts, told the AP the measurement tool is outdated, noting that Americans are now bigger – but that doesn’t mean they are less healthy.
One expert said that the tape test measures a body’s shape, but neglects to factor in its composition, such as body fat percentages.
Defense officials, on the other hand, say that those who pass the tape test are ready for combat. They consider the test to be cost-effective, and say there’s a margin of error of less than 1 percent. We are troubled by the lengths our military members are going to meet the test’s requirements.
Liposuction is a very extreme option. Complications such as infections, embolisms and nerve damage can occur. And according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, liposuction doesn’t always achieve the desired effect, with scarring possible.
It’s also possible that fat deposits can return to the site if the patient gains weight again after the surgery.
While the tape test at one point probably was the best option, times have changed, and the military needs to evolve with them. The body mass index is supported by doctors and fitness professionals, and is a logical choice for the Pentagon to adopt.