Obesity among young children and adolescents has troubled public health officials for the past decade. Today’s kids are fat and getting fatter, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This federal agency charged with tracking and mitigating disease in the United States recently noted that for children and adolescents aged 2-19 years:
Because most new recruits must come from these recent high school graduates, this obesity trend also greatly concerns the U.S. military forces, especially the Army, which has made a fundamental change in its fitness testing. The six-event readiness assessment, called the Army Combat Fitness Test, is intended to replace the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.
Beginning October 2020, all soldiers will be required to take the new gender- and age-neutral test. Before that, field testing set to begin this October will allow the Army to refine the test, with initial plans for up to 40,000 Soldiers from all three components to see it.
The Army’s Height and Weight Requirements
According to this article, the Army has strict height, weight and body-fat composition rules for recruits and the allowable measurements vary by age and gender. For example, a 5-foot-6-inch woman must weigh at least 117 pounds but cannot weigh more than 155 to 161 pounds, depending on age. A 5-foot-9-inch man has to weigh at least 128 pounds, but can’t tip the scales at more than 175 to 188 pounds. Body fat can’t be more than 30 to 36 percent in women or more than 20 to 26 percent in men.
Recruits who fail to meet basic height and weight qualifications receive a body-fat calculation based on abdominal and neck measurements. For recruits who exceed allowable body-fat percentages, the Army has a monitoring program that mandates monthly weight loss. The service also gives overweight recruits personal counseling to help them create a fitness and nutrition routine.
While not overly rigorous, this weight requirement was a serious problem for one young man in Las Vegas, Nevada who was determined to join the Army. His story should serve as a wakeup call for other young men and women who have had 18 years of bad habits, making them unfit for military service.
A Big Kid Goes “All In” to Lose the Weight
Louis Pinto knew he wanted to join the Army and serve his country but he weighed 317 pounds, which is about 113 pounds too many to even be considered.
“My whole life I was a big kid,” Pinto said. “I played football in high school and I was a lineman. I was just one of those big old guys walking around campus. I guess I just got used to being big and not paying attention to that fat kid in the mirror.”
The Army recruiter who met with Pinto offered a challenge. “If you go to work and try to lose the weight, I will help you,” he said. “In the first couple of weeks of exercise and dieting, he lost about 10 pounds. I knew he was trying.”
Pinto dedicated the next 7 months to losing more than 110 lbs. Now, his recruiter calls him Private Pinto because Luis did it – and now he says he’s ready.
"Knowing that you're about to leave your family and there are sacrifices but to know what you're doing is for the better of you and for your future. That overtakes everything,” said Pinto. “You're doing something important for the world."
To watch Louis Pinto’s inspirational quest to lose his excess weight and serve his country, click on this news report.
Get Ready for Greater Fitness Demands in the Army
In addition to meeting the current height and weight requirement, young men and women who want to serve should be aware that the U.S. Army is placing much emphasis on physical fitness. The ACFT is more demanding than any other branch of the military and it will be fully implemented by October 2020.