The New York Times, Washington Times and the New York Daily News and others are just now reporting a story that is old news for Military Times readers — service members are resorting to extreme weight-loss methods to meet strict body composition standards.
Marine Corps Times reporter James K. Sanborn first broke the story three years ago in July 2010, when it was revealed that a large number of service members were resorting to risky and sometimes deadly weight loss methods including dehydration, purging, diet supplements and yes — even liposuction.
Doctors told Marine Corps Times then that often perfectly healthy, strong Marines walked through their doors wanting liposuction to pass the tape test. Failure would be a career-ending stain on their record, one said.
Many in the military criticize current body composition measurement methods, saying they are inaccurate and do not reflect their appearance or performance as warfighters.
In the Corps, for example, a Marine’s neck and waist are taped. A formula is used to determine if they are within standards. But certain body types with disproportionately thick necks or abdomens skew results even if a Marine isn’t overweight. Marine Corps leaders, however, defended the testing methods as generally reliable, cheap and simple to perform even in the war zone. Other more accurate methods require special, sometimes expensive equipment.
Check out Marine Corps Times’ original story that sparked our sister papers including Army, Navy and Air Force Times to find similar trends in the other services.