Top Gut: The Air Force Is Loosening Body Fat Requirements For Recruits

Despite the growing military fitness crisis, the Air Force is now increasing the percentage of acceptable body fat to “broaden the pool” of people they can call to service as it struggles to find new recruits. Male recruits are now permitted to have up to 26% body fat — up from 20% — while females can have 36%, up from 28%. According to medical experts, however, a high percentage of body fat can increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions with the proposed percentage points reaching “dangerously high” levels. Air Force Recruiting Service spokeswoman Leslie Brown said that it’s hoped that the changes will encourage more people to join, although they will still be expected to meet the same fitness standards. In fiscal year 2022, the military failed to make its recruiting goal for the first time, falling short by 15,000 recruits, or a quarter of the requirement. That's largely because three-quarters of Americans aged 17 to 24 are not eligible for military service for several reasons, including extra weight. Being overweight is the biggest reason individuals are disqualified, affecting more than 1 in 10 potential recruits.