The soldiers often call Dr. Adam Tattelbaum, a plastic surgeon, in a panic.
They need liposuction, and fast.
A number of military personnel are turning to the surgical procedure to remove excess fat from around the waist so they can pass the Pentagon’s body fat test, which can determine their future prospects in the military.
‘They come in panicked about being kicked out or getting a demerit that will hurt their chances at a promotion,’ said the Rockville, Md., surgeon.
Some service members say they have no other choice because the Defense Department’s method of estimating body fat is weeding out not just flabby physiques but bulkier, muscular builds.
Fitness experts and doctors agree, and are calling for the military’s fitness standards to be revamped, including the weight tables the Pentagon uses.
They say the tables are outdated and do not reflect that Americans are bigger, though not necessarily less healthy.
Defense officials say only a small fraction of those who exceed body fat limits perform well on physical fitness tests.
‘Those incidences are far and few between,’ said Bill Moore, director of the Navy’s Physical Readiness Program.
‘We want everybody to succeed. This isn’t an organization that trains them and says, ‘Hey, get the heck out’.’
The checks are designed to ensure troops are ready for the rigors of combat. Pentagon officials say the military does not condone surgically altering one’s body to pass the test, though liposuction is not banned.
The Defense Department uses what is called a ‘tape test’ to make a body fat estimate by taking measurements of the waist and neck.
Those who fail are ordered to spend months in a vigorous exercise and nutrition program, which Marines call the ‘pork chop platoon’ or ‘doughnut brigade’. Even if they later pass, failing the test once can halt promotions for years, service members say.