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More than a quarter of ADF personnel estimated to be overweight, research finds


Army.ca Fixture
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Not surprised, really.

Researchers analysing the waist sizes of Defence Force soldiers estimate more than a quarter of military personnel are overweight.

The study, published in the BMJ Military Health journal, examined more than 155,000 new field and combat pants issued across three Army sites between 2016 and 2019.

The findings led to an estimate that about 23 per cent of Army personnel were overweight, while an additional 4.5 per cent were obese.

"The Australian Army, like many Western armies, has a significant proportion of overweight personnel," the research found.

"Part of the selection criteria for service in the military is the ability to meet the physical demands of service … overweight or obese candidates would not normally be selected."

The average waist circumference of the adjustable pants was 90.4 centimetres.

Researchers say a waist circumference of 94cm or greater for men and 80cm or greater for women indicates that a person is at increased risk of developing a range of chronic diseases "and can be regarded as being overweight".

There are a number of limitations to the study, including the uniform having adjustable tabs on the waist band; researchers increased the pant size data by two inches to better reflect the measured size.

The lead author, Dr Jason Selman, conducted the research in his capacity as a Curtin University lecturer and is now the Officer in Charge of the 3rd Brigade's Human Performance Centre in Townsville.

The paper said the average waistline of Australian soldiers had increased since 1958, and that the proportion of personnel estimated to be overweight was lower than other Western armies.

Michael Clements, a former Air Force medical officer and now a Townsville GP with a large ex-Defence clientele, said overweight soldiers were probably healthier than the general population.

But he said the estimate reflected the national problem of weight gain.

[More at link]