Facing Fat Test, US Troops Use ... Liposuction

Stocky service members fight for their very careers
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2013 7:30 PM CDT
Facing Fat Test, US Troops Use ... Liposuction
In a Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 photo, a United States Marine who failed the so-called "tape test" works up a sweat at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.    (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Don't be surprised to see US troops lining up at your nearest plastic surgeon's office—they're probably terrified of failing the Pentagon's body fat test, the AP reports. "They come in panicked about being kicked out or getting a demerit that will hurt their chances at a promotion," says a surgeon in Rockville, Md. The Pentagon's test relies on tape measurements of the waist and neck rather than the widely used body-mass index, so guys with funny-shaped bodies have a tough time passing.

Worse, Marines who flunk have to join a nutrition and exercise program known as the "pork chop platoon" or "doughnut brigade." A couple more failed tests and they can get kicked out. So more service members are having the fat surgically removed: "I've actually had commanders recommend it to their troops," says a surgeon. "They'll deny that if you ask them." Will the US military ever switch to BMI tests? One Marine hopes so, saying that "there's got to be something better for Marines who are working hard but just born like a tree stump." (More liposuction stories.)

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