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Coast Guard eases body composition standards

The Coast Guard is making it easier for all its members to pass height-and-weight standards and for larger recruits to enter the service.

As of April 20, the service's manual of body-fat standards manual allows new Coast Guardsmen to exceed the maximum allowed weight if their body-fat percentage is within regulation, according to a servicewide message.

Previously, anyone over the maximum weight — 250 pounds — needed a waiver to enlist.

There are also new rules for taking and recording body-fat measurements across the service:

  • If there's a variation of less than one inch in the required three sets of measurements (waist and neck, plus hips for women) taken, the recorder will write down the the lowest set.
  • Body-fat measurements will be rounded down to the nearest half inch.

Previously, circumference measurements were averaged and body fat was rounded up to the nearest whole inch, Coast Guard spokeswoman Lisa Novak told Navy Times on May 7.

The changes were not due to complaints from the fleet or issues with new recruits showing up to boot camp overweight, she said.

"Like the Navy, the Coast Guard uses the weight standard to reduce the amount of body-fat measurements that must be conducted," she added.

The changes are designed to streamline the recruiting process and promote alignment with Navy policy and also to streamline the recruiting process.

Now, if a recruit weighs more than 250 pounds, which maxes out the chart, it's all right if their height and other measurements fall within body fat standards.

Those body-fat standards remain the samemeasurements are:

  • Men: 22 percent under age 30; 24 percent under age 40; and 26 percent over age 40. for men
  • Women: 32 percent under age 30; 34 percent under age 40; and 36 percent over age 40. for women

Those numbers are less restrictive than the Navy's, but the Coast Guard's gender neutral height-and-weight chart is more stringent than the Navy's separate standards.

For its part, the Navy is looking to the other services as it makes changes to its own body composition standards.

Currently, there are two age groups for body-fat measurements in the Navy: under age 40 and over 40.

As part of its coming BCA overhaul, a Navy official with knowledge of the changes told Navy Times earlier this year that the service is looking to allow body fat to increase more as a sailor ages, the way the Coast Guard and other services do.

Fitness changes

The Coast Guard's new body composition rules come just a couple months after the Coast Guard scrapped its long-awaited plan for its first servicewide physical fitness test.

Unlike the other four military services, the Coast Guard has never required that all members complete a semi-annual exam, though many individual units hold their own job-specific tests.

After more than two years of development and testing, officials concluded that a standardized test would be untenable for many of the service's smaller and more remote commands, Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told Navy Times in March.

"A number of our units don't have the wherewithal to even implement these measures," he said, making it unfair to require the test without the facilities to hold them.

He used the example of 87-foot patrol boats, which he noted are colloquially known as "vomit comets."

"I don't know how many laps you'd have to run," Zukunft said. "They're not very friendly riding to begin with. But if you're deployed for a period of days on those or smaller patrol boats, yeah, we just don't have the wherewithal to accommodate fitness while underway."

The test, piloted at some training commands, included a 300-yard shuttle run, pullups and a jump event. The decision not to implement it was announced via servicewide message March 3.

Zukunft said the service will continue with its mandatory Personal Fitness Plan, which requires members to sign off on 180 minutes of exercise per week, minimum.

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