Archive for the 'Body Composition Assessment' Tag

The weigh-in/body composition assessment (BCA) portion of the Navy’s physical fitness test (PRT) is in need of a change.

The height-weight tables are based on standards from the insurance industry that are out-of-date and no longer appropriate to assess the fitness of a contemporary military population—if they ever were. The current standards remain in place mainly because they are straightforward enough to allow many collateral duty physical fitness coordinators throughout the fleet to reliably administer them. What is often overlooked is the fact that precision (in this case, ease of replication) is not the same as accuracy.

It can be assumed that nearly everyone wants a force that can safely perform the tasks asked of them and also looks sharp in uniform. The Navy’s physical fitness portion of the assessment is divorced from occupational requirements and flawed in its own right, but I intend to talk about here about the more-overlooked BCA.

The Navy is a sea-going force and that presents unique challenges to physical fitness that the Navy prefers to ignore. While it is true that the physical fitness portion of the test can be waived for deployment or operations, the instruction is very specific that BCA cannot be waived. This serves to hold Sailors accountable for an area that they sometimes have very little control over. In addition to the real, physical consequences of rotating shift work on metabolism, there are often very limited healthy food options underway. Opportunities to work out can be similarly limited. While there might be a few functioning treadmills onboard, running in rough seas can be very difficult, even unsafe. The increasing length of deployments only exacerbates this problem. While Sailors may no longer be at high risk for scurvy, eight, nine, or even ten months at sea is still a long time and the toll it takes on one’s body is undeniably.

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