Service members desperate to maintain good standing sometimes turn to plastic surgery as a way to maintain the Defense Department's strict standards for body fat and fitness, reported the Associated Press.
"They come in panicked about being kicked out or getting a demerit that will hurt their chances at a promotion," plastic surgeon Adam Tattelbaum told the AP.
The Defense Department's body fat test relies on neck and waist measurements, rather than the more widely known body mass index, which calculates body shape based on a person's height and weight. Soldiers and fitness experts claim the military's standards are outdated, and discriminate against bulkier or more muscular physiques.
Pentagon officials say the body fat standards are designed to ensure troops are prepared for combat, and failing the tests can carry serious consequences, according to the AP. Soldiers who don't meet the requirements spend months in an exercise and nutrition program. Furthermore, flunking the test once can result in being overlooked for promotions for years, and failing the test three times can result in service members being kicked out, reported the AP.
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Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.