December 2, 2021


Keep Fit & Healthy

Army reviews body fat regulation in Fort Bragg study.

6 min read

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify how many volunteers researchers are seeking to participate in the study. 

FORT BRAGG — The bodies of Fort Bragg soldiers are being studied through next week.

Researchers with the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine are conducting the comprehensive body composition study at Fort Bragg.  

For about three decades, the Army has used what’s known as the tape test, measuring the neck and abdomen in males and neck, waist and hips in females to calculate the body-fat percentage.  

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, who checked out the study Tuesday, said the method has “stood the test of time,” but can have a low human-error rate.  

Grinston said the rationale for collecting the data came from soldiers asking leaders to look at height and weight standards in the Army.  

He said he initially misunderstood the soldier’s request of wanting to “train highly disciplined, physically fit soldiers.”  

“What soldiers really asked me for is, ‘Do we have the height and weight tables right?’” Grinston said.  

A soldier receives a standard tape test Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, at Fort Bragg. The test is part of a comprehensive body composition study examining the association between body composition and soldier physical performance.

Researchers are taking into consideration that technologies the Army has at its disposal “today didn’t exist 30 years ago,” he said. 

The tape method is being used as part of the study, but researchers are looking at three other ways to measure body-fat percentage.  

New body-fat measuring methods

At the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry machine Tuesday, soldiers laid down for about seven minutes as the machine digitally scanned their bodies.  

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