Demographic differences in body composition of Navy and Marine Corps personnel: Findings from the perception of wellness and readiness assessment [dataset]

Wendy F. Graham, Laurel L. Hourani, Diane Sorenson, Huixing Yuan
1999 PsycEXTRA Dataset   unpublished
With the recent increase in women's representation in the military, baseline physical measurement data are needed to help set appropriate accession and retention standards and to design useful prevention and intervention programs in the areas of physical fitness and health. This study incorporated several body composition indices to obtain anthropometric data for a representative sample of 1292 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps women and men. It also assessed the extent to which personnel met
more » ... ich personnel met weight-for-height and body fat standards. The prevalence of overweight was considerably lower among Marine Corps women as compared with Navy women and slightly less for Marine Corps men compared with their Navy counterparts. Between one-fifth and one-third of military personnel exceeded Navy/Marine Corps weight-forheight standards. Navy women tended to meet weight standards more often than Navy men. Fewer Marine Corps women than men were overweight but more exceeded their weight-forheight standards. All branches of the US military employ weight or body composition standards to screen members into military service as well as to determine their fitness for continued duty. 1 With the recent increase in women's representation in the military, physical measurement baseline data for military women is needed to help set appropriate accession and retention standards and to design useful prevention and intervention programs in the areas of physical fitness and health. 2 " 3 Body fat standards vary between services, and, in some services, by age; however the services are consistent in recognizing a gender-appropriate level of body fat that is higher in women. 4 In the naval services, body fat is assessed at the time of Physical Readiness Training (PRT) testing. A failed semiannual PRT screen based on a height/weight table may trigger a follow-up body fat assessment based on circumferences. 5 At the time of this study, the allowable body fat maximum for male sailors of all ages was 22%, while the maximum acceptable body fat value for women was 30%. The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) employed a height/weight standard that was slightly more stringent than the corresponding Navy height/weight table with no body fat standard specified. 6 There is considerable debate on the appropriateness of various weight standards for men and women of different ages and racial groups. 7 Quantification of body fat has relied on various technologies, such as hydrostatic weighing, anthropometry, and electrical impedance. Whereas hydrostatic weighing generally produces a valid and reliable result and is the current "gold standard" against which other methods are compared, it is cumbersome, expensive, and can only be accomplished in a laboratory. 8 Although anthropometry and electrical impedance lend themselves to epidemiological investigation, each of these methods presents unique problems, especially when applied to women. 8 " 10 The pattern of distribution of body fat is dissimilar for men and women. "Women carry more fat on and less in their smaller frames compared to men," 11 and they also distribute more of it to the extremities than men; this is reflected in the higher triceps and skinfold thicknesses relative to trunk measures, such as the subscapular skinfold. 8 Unlike men, women have fat deposits in the breasts, hips, and thighs to accommodate pregnancy and lactation. These gender differences have given rise to a variety of anthropometric equations that encompass various combinations of height, weight, circumference, and skinfold measurements to predict body fat. Since it is recognized that an increasing amount of body fat is associated with age, age has been added to some equations in determining body fat composition. 12 Although others argue that BF should not, ideally, increase with age, the increase is generally attributed to decreased activity. 13 This is also why there is no change in BF standards with age for the Navy. Large national health surveys such as NHANES and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) have utilized body mass index (BMI) as an overall indicator of obesity. Although BMI provides only an approximation of body fat, it is a simple and convenient measure (based upon height and weight) and has been shown to be associated with disease risk. 14 The use of the BMI as an overall indicator of overweight has been endorsed by the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel. 14 The present study incorporates several of the above body composition indices to obtain baseline anthropometric data for a representative sample of Navy and Marine Corps personnel. As with the national surveys, the purpose of the present study is to help establish the normative distributions for height, weight, subscapular and triceps skinfolds, and body mass. The first specific objective of this study was to determine normative distributions of selected physical measurements and make comparisons between women and men, white versus other races, different age groups, enlisted personnel versus officers, and sailors versus marines. The second 00 CS fi 'u es SS es >> > CS Z CO CJ -Ö es u ÖD es a BS es M es y es h &►> a •m*
doi:10.1037/e478822004-001 fatcat:i34zvllk3jdy3gvlbwyxqboife