Track services

Marines turn to scanners to help track body fat of the few and the proud

The Marine Corps will no longer rely solely on a tape test to determine whether its personnel are “fit to fight.” Instead, they will use more modern methods to determine a Marine’s lean mass and fat mass level.

The Marine Corps just completed a year-long study in conjunction with the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine to assess current body composition standards. It was one of the most comprehensive studies of the issue since the 1980s, Marine Corps officials said this week.

“This study marks an important step in understanding the health and performance of our Marines,” Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a statement. “Our primary focus in the Marine Corps is the individual Marine and this study is a pivotal point.”

Beginning January 1, Marine Corps commanders will no longer automatically assign personnel to the service’s official weight loss plan – known as the “Body Composition Program” (BCP) – until their tissue density is determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) or bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

In the past, body fat was determined by a strip test measuring a person’s neck and waist. The numbers would then be correlated with a Marine’s height.

“Marines who are identified as exceeding their allowable body fat percentage during check-in will receive a DEXA or BIA scan to ensure body fat percentage accuracy prior to enrollment in the body composition program,” the officials said. of the Marine Corps.


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The Navy will also implement a 1% increase in allowable total body fat for female Marines, officials said.

However, the new program does not mean the Marine Corps is throwing away the tape measure. They said he correctly identifies more than 90% of male and female Marines as exceeding allowable body fat standards.

“We recognize that a more scientifically advanced method of determining body composition is needed before a Marine is assigned to a program that could have career implications,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Iiams, Chief of Command. of Marine Corps training and education.

General Berger said it was essential for them to find the most “practical, accurate and unbiased” method of measuring body composition in order to maintain a healthy and ready force.

“At the end of the day, it’s about fighting,” General Berger said. “It will take time to get it right, but we owe it to our Marines to act quickly.”