Thursday, January 8, 2009

Doughboys?

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the U.S. Army is now relaxing its weight standards for new recruits. The new effort hopes to allow athletic but large-sized or muscular recruits to help the armed forces boost its personnel totals.

It’s the kind of story that television news usually reads over video footage of oversized legs and bottoms bounding down public sidewalks in slow motion.

Uncle Sam’s move is the latest public smack to hit BMI, a quick measure of height and weight that very often misses the mark on rating someone’s health.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s status as obese by BMI standards has famously been cited as a sign of the BMI system’s failure, but many other more normal body types also may be unfairly captured as obese or overweight as well.

Land Line has reported extensively on the FMCSA Medical Review Board’s recommendation that all truckers with BMIs of 30 or greater be required to undergo expensive sleep studies, before possibly being required to spend thousands on machines to treat it.

FMCSA has not yet acted on the board’s BMI recommendation.

Truckers have very strong opinions on this issue. While many admit to being heavier than they would like to be (due often to truck stop food and a lack of good workout facilities), I’ve also heard from OOIDA members and Land Line readers who take care of themselves pretty well but still may push the proposed FMCSA BMI limit.

And a very large percentage of OOIDA members are veterans of the U.S. armed forces, as evidenced by the Association’s recent record-breaking Truckers for Troops telethon.

But here’s my question.

Will truckers be told they’re too heavy to safely operate a truck, but are just healthy enough to serve and die for their country?