WASHINGTON — After a months-long research study, the Army will keep its current height and weight screening tables, the service’s top noncommissioned officer announced at the Association of the U.S. Army conference Wednesday afternoon.
The branch’s Center for Initial Military Training joined forces with medical research experts last year to evaluate whether the Army’s body composition policies should be changed.
According to Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the study found that the service’s current methods for weight screening and measuring body fat are “pretty accurate.”
“The data shows that the height and weight tables are correct,” he explained.
But the service has identified areas where policy tweaks could help improve the accuracy of the tape test, which habitually underestimates the body fat of most troops.
What could change?
Army officials are working to evaluate whether a number of proposed tweaks to body fat measurement are supported in the study’s data — a process they’re approaching carefully after a data validity issue contributed to the Army Combat Fitness Test’s bumpy rollout.
But Grinston offered a preview of one preliminary change, though it won’t be official policy until researchers approve.
“If you score 540 on the ACFT, you will be exempt from height and weight,” said Grinston. If made policy, the body composition ACFT exemption will help women with a high level of physical fitness, who are more likely to fail the current tape test than men who are physically fit.
He declined to elaborate on other changes to body fat measurement.
But a recent overhaul of Marine Corps body composition standards could indicate one potential change. That branch also recently completed a similar body composition study with the same researchers who conducted the Army’s study.
The Corps will now allow troops who fail the tape test to have confirmation testing via another body fat measuring method (such as body scanners) before they can face discipline for not meeting standards.
Grinston did not directly answer a question about whether the Army is evaluating a similar initiative.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.