by Anastasia Devlin
During a virtual town hall meeting held Aug. 5, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz unveiled an update to the service’s weight and body fat standards. The new update even has a new name—it’s called the Body Composition Pilot Program, and it’s aimed at creating a healthier military service.
Historically, 17 percent of Coast Guardsmen are taped during their weigh-ins, which is a secondary screening tool after Body Mass Index. In this new one-year pilot program, which begins Oct. 1, Coast Guardsmen who exceed their Maximum Allowable Weight (MAW) will be taped using both the standard taping method and the new abdominal circumference (AC) measurement, but only need to comply with one of the two measurements. The max AC measurement will be 39 inches for men and 35.5 inches for women.
Recent studies show AC is a more accurate measurement of overall health risk than the standard taping methods. The National Institutes of Health found that excess body fat in the abdominal area—indicated by an AC measurement greater than 40 inches for men or 35 for women—was an important independent risk factor for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
A huge (and highly requested) part of the new pilot program is adding a physical fitness test as an available way for service members who have not met their MAW and taping requirements, to demonstrate compliance pending an approval from medical. This option comes as a result of direct feedback from the fleet, and the correlation to health indicated by passing the PFT is also supported by scientific data from DoD.
“We want our members to present a sharp military appearance and more importantly, we want them to be healthy,” said Lt. Emily Trudeau, an office of budget and programs reviewer.
“Physical fitness affects our readiness as a service, and this new baseline ensures a healthy lifestyle is a service priority.”
With readiness as the Coast Guard’s primary focus for its 48,000 uniformed members, the healthy options are a welcome change. To get the specifics on the Body Composition Pilot Program, visit https://dcms.uscg.mil/military/Body-Composition-Program/.