No ‘Cake’ For Fat Indian Air Force Men

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New Delhi: In combat mode against the bulge, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is mulling a policy that will rule out its obese airmen from promotions and career enhancement programmes, being considered for ceremonial events and coveted foreign postings like in the United Nations peace-keeping missions, defence attaches and air attaches in Indian diplomatic missions abroad, besides many training opportunities and other courses and short visits.

The obesity aspect and the overall fitness issue of IAF personnel figured prominently during the IAF commanders’ conference held in New Delhi from April 19 to 21.

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“The IAF is strongly emphasising on obesity management. On finalisation, obese IAF personnel cannot be commanding units, cannot be put on ceremonial duties or go on overseas assignments and be considered for promotions,” sources familiar with the development told The Asian Age.

The IAF spokesperson declined to offer any comment on the issue. Defined as accumulation of excess body fat, the obesity factor would be considered in the periodic medical check-ups that the IAF men have to undergo. Anyone found with a body mass index (BMI) count of over 30 would be considered obese while a count of 25-30 would be considered overweight.

The IAF is following the footsteps of the Army which issued a special order in March, detailing similar steps against its obese personnel. While men from the Army, Navy and IAF are expected to have better health indices as compared to the normal population on account of their younger age and healthy lifestyles which includes a strict fitness and diet regimen, a 2011 study published in the journal of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) found a high prevalence overweight and obesity (29.9%) among Indian militarymen.

A 2011 study by Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) of 3,927 male personnel from the IAF divided into three age groups, 20-25, 26-30 and 31-35 years, had found gradual increase in mean BMI as the age of the population increased. While the percentage of the IAF personnel having normal BMI grade was found to be 71.3%, the percentage of overweight population was found to be 25.7%.

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