What do the army do? Fat soldiers and the meaninglessness of BMI

According to The Observer, the army has a problem with soldiers who do not get a minimum of two hours of physical exercise a week. I know accountants who get more than that. What exactly do the army do with their time?

I had always naively imagined that when they were not actually fighting, they would spend their time making sure they were ready to fight: i.e. getting lots of exercise and practising shooting things. I would have guessed that they got several hours of exercise a day. What do they do? Can someone tell me? Knowing the government I have a nasty feeling it is going to be something like “filling in bits of paper to tell people how much exercise they have not been getting”.

So now they have all these soldiers who are classified as PUD. This is an abbreviation for “physically unable to deploy”, rather than an explanation of what they ate to become that way.

This used to be avoided by an upper limit on soldiers body mass index. The reason they dropped this was that the increasing fatness of teenagers meant that the army could no longer find enough non-fatties any more. Even more amusingly, body mass index does not take into account whether the excess mass is fat or muscle. The army, therefore, used to have a policy of rejecting would-be soldiers for being too muscular.

BMI is something that doctors like to use because it is easy for them, and is sort of right most of the time, rather than actually being a good measure of anything.

Of course the other solution might be to recruit people who already get that much exercise in their spare time. Maybe all those bankers who used to keep City gyms busy might be open to a new career?

A longer term solution would be to persuade parents to stop being so paranoid about letting their children outdoors (because there is supposed to be a paedophile on every street corner) so that they grow up to be fit enough to be recruited.