by Brennan Deveraux & Katie Haapala
For the past few years, the Army has prioritized a holistic approach to health and fitness, epitomized by the service’s overhaul of its physical fitness test. However, the Army’s establishment of its new Combat Fitness Test, and the subsequent controversy with implementation and equipment, has overshadowed other critical initiatives. One of the most pressing of these is the Army Body Composition Program (ABCP) assessment, sparked by the combination of complaints concerning the effectiveness of the tape test, the relevance of a dated height-weight chart, and the potential for discrimination.
While many authors have written on the ABCP, often challenging the service to update its body fat testing methods, an assessment of the program’s fundamental purpose is missing from the conversation.
Simply stated, why does the Army care about a Soldier’s body fat percentage?
While the answer to this question may seem obvious, an examination of the ABCP’s justifications and human costs highlights a need to reimagine the program.