BAT­TLE OF THE BULGE

1 in 5 troops are too fat to fight I HELP OTH­ERS WIN WAR

The People - - NEWS FEATURES - By Sean Ray­ment

A RECORD 30,529 of our troops are over­weight and at a “high or very high risk” of ill health.

Thou­sands have had of­fi­cial warn­ings they are at risk of de­vel­op­ing heart disease, high blood pres­sure, strokes and can­cer due to their weight.

And at least 17,600 have also been di­ag­nosed as clin­i­cally obese, ac­cord­ing to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest by the Sun­day Peo­ple.

The rev­e­la­tion means 20 per cent of troops are dan­ger­ously over­weight.

De­fence chiefs pri­vately be­lieve they are los­ing the bat­tle of the bulge and have to face the prospect that the armed forces fea­tures thou­sands of troops who are, lit­er­ally, not fight­ing fit.

Pie

One se­nior of­fi­cer said: “We have a ma­jor prob­lem with obe­sity and it is cur­rently un­der­min­ing our op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness. You can’t fight and win wars with fat sol­diers. De­spite try­ing to in­tro­duce healthy di­ets, a lot of sol­diers are still eat­ing pie and chips ev­ery day.”

Al­most 400 armed forces per­son­nel – mainly sol­diers – are cur­rently serv­ing with type 2 di­a­betes, the form of the disease linked to life­style choices.

The FOI re­quest also re­vealed at least 116 were pre­scribed diet pills in the past 12 months. And the doc­u­ment shows 16 peo­ple had li­po­suc­tion treat­ment in the year to this July.

In to­tal 17,117 sol­diers, 6,401 sailors and 7,011 mem­bers of the RAF had a Body Com­po­si­tion Mea­sure plac­ing them in ei­ther a high risk or ex­treme risk of se­ri­ous ill health.

The BCM takes into ac­count both the waist­line and the Body Mass In­dex.

Of troops fac­ing se­ri­ous health risk, up to 17,600 were shown to have a BMI greater than 30, of­fi­cially class­ing them JAMES Til­ley was 17st when he was 16 and would reg­u­larly eat up to 5,000 calo­ries a day.

But he shed 6.5st in three months to join the Royal Marines – and is now help­ing oth­ers get in shape af­ter open­ing his own gym.

When James, 25, from Wilt­shire, fin­ished school his step­fa­ther sug­gested join­ing the Marines as a way to turn his life around. Af­ter shed­ding his weight and pass­ing the tests, he served from 2011 to 2015. He says he now sticks to a strict high-pro­tein die and an ex­er­cise regime.

As a teen he ate past the point of feel­ing full, which left him un­happy and un­mo­ti­vated.

James said: “I was al­ways the funny fat kid in class but in re­al­ity, I

as obese. Com­mand­ing of­fi­cers of in­fantry units have in­tro­duced “fat clubs” to help tubby sol­diers shed pounds.

Hun­dreds of sol­diers, sailors and air­men have also been given Fit­bit bracelets to help them shed fat and thou­sands have been placed on spe­cial di­ets.

In the past six years, the MOD was forced to sack at least 20 sol­diers who were chron­i­cally over­weight and un­able to pass ba­sic fit­ness tests. Of those, two were more than 22 stone, three were over 20 stone, three topped 17 stone and the was mis­er­able. I never wanted to leave the house and wouldn’t go swim­ming be­cause I felt too em­bar­rassed.”

He added that there were no quick fixes to los­ing weight, say­ing: “It’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and con­sis­tency that got me this far and I will con­tinue push­ing to bet­ter my­self and mo­ti­vate oth­ers.”

light­est were two men at 15 stone and a woman of around 13 stone.

Troops are sup­posed to have care­fully man­aged fit­ness rou­tines, re­quir­ing them to do at least four hour-long ses­sions of train­ing a week.

They also have a diet that can range from 2,500 calo­ries a day to more than 7,000 de­pend­ing on their de­mands and whether they are on desk or com­bat duty. Much of the blame has been placed on troops’ di­ets and the grow­ing obe­sity prob­lem in so­ci­ety in gen­eral.

Troops can eat three cooked meals a day and choose to start with a full English break­fast fol­lowed by two hefty meals that in­clude chips and pud­dings.

Tam Fry, of the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum, said: “The fig­ures are very con­cern­ing, par­tic­u­larly the one for type 2 di­a­betes, which is largely pre­ventable.

“The tax­payer has a right to ex­pect any­one in pub­lic ser­vice whose duty it is to re­spond to an emer­gency are fit for pur­pose. The re­spon­si­bil­ity must rest with the brass that com­mands them.” The dis­clo­sure comes days af­ter it emerged the Min­istry of De­fence is in­tro­duc­ing fit­ness tests for

troops with no pass or fail.

Fit­ness

The cur­rent Per­sonal Fit­ness Assess­ment, in which sol­diers must reach cer­tain tar­gets to be el­i­gi­ble to go to war, will be re­placed by the Sol­dier Con­di­tion­ing Re­view. A leaked MOD doc­u­ment states: “The SCR is not a crit­i­cal test but re­sults may in­di­cate the need for ad­di­tional fit­ness train­ing.” Un­like other tests, the an­nual SCR will ap­ply to all reg­u­lar and re­serve per­son­nel and may in­clude ac­tiv­i­ties like a 2km run, 30m sprints, pull-ups, ver­ti­cal jumps and a dead­lift. The doc­u­ment de­scribes the SCR as an “in-ser­vice di­ag­nos­tic tool” to rank fit­ness lev­els on a scale of one to ten. But crit­ics sus­pect the change has been driven in part by the need to re­tain ex­ist­ing per­son­nel and at­tract re­cruits. Num­bers in the armed forces have sunk to their low­est level since the Napoleonic Wars and the Army is said to be 4,000 short of the 82,000 it needs to be an ef­fec­tive fight­ing force.

WELL FED: Troops get 3 meals a day RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY: Tam Fry WHO DARES THINS: Troop weight bat­tle

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