A Better Way to Measure Fat
MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
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Marines have been commonly referred to as lean, mean, fighting machines. Today, there are 2,112 Marines on weight control. That means that approximately two percent of all Marines on active today are being affected by the current system by which the Corps measures body fat. The Marine Corps current system of using tape measurement to determine body fat is the least accurate of multiple modern methods now available to the public. Using more advanced methods would reduce human error and increase standardization throughout the Marine Corps. Initially, when the Marine Corps began testing for body fat in 1981 using the Navy formula, few alternatives existed. Those that did were expensive and cumbersome. The current tape measurement system used by the Navy and Marine Corps to estimate body fat content, as a percentage of weight, uses the equations of Wright, Dotson, and Davis. These equations had been developed for the U.S. Marine Corps as part of its weight control policy. Body fat content was estimated from neck and abdomen circumferences for men, and neck, abdomen, biceps, forearm, and thigh circumferences for women. Endomorphs are more likely to fail a body fat tape measurement regardless of their sex, physical fitness routine, or diet due to their characteristically large lower bodies and narrow upper body. This does not necessarily mean they have more body fat than others who pass the tape measure test. Making a move to a modernized fat test would ultimately be a more accurate assessment of health and body fat content than scales or tape measures. The solution is to use bioelectrical impedance analysis. This method leaves little room for human error, is accurate, and is nonintrusive. It simply requires a Marine to stand on a scale barefoot for 30-45 seconds while electrodes painlessly course through the body and calculate a percentage of fat from density variation.
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