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Title: Fit v. Fat: Reevaluating the USMC Body Composition Program to Increase Accuracy and Optimize Long-Term Performance
Authors: Cristina Lopez
Keywords: body fat
physical fitness
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2022
Publisher: Acquisition Research Program
Citation: APA
Series/Report no.: Human Resources;NPS-HR-22-226
Abstract: Current weight and circumference-based standards rely on an outdated study from 1984 that included few non-white servicemembers. This research analyzes the impacts of recent changes in USMC body composition standards and requirements on the performance of Marines. This research compares the distribution of weight before and after a point in time for various weight zone groups and evaluates how physical fitness scores are impacted by policy given a servicemember’s previous weight. There is evidence that servicemembers actively manage their weight to stay below the weight threshold. This provides evidence that servicemembers avoid the overweight category and consequently, the scrutiny of the circumference-based method. This research does not find a strong relationship between weight and performance, but prior research highlights that restrictive weight standards are associated with adverse health behaviors such as dehydration tactics or disordered eating. Weight loss induced by weight standards may also be associated with increased injury rates. The Marine Corps should reevaluate the body composition program and consider policy changes to incentivize performance, focus on health, and use current predictors of performance to assess servicemembers, rather than appearance standards based on the circumference-based method. These changes could pay dividends toward overall combat readiness and performance.
Description: Student thesis
Appears in Collections:NPS Graduate Student Theses & Reports

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