A number of soldiers in the UK have been prescribed diet pills or undergone liposuction to combat weight and fitness problems, it was revealed this weekend. At least 270 armed forces members received diet pills to help them fight obesity in the last two years.
The statistics come from Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sought by The Sunday Times. The answers to the FoI requests also showed that 20 members of the armed forces have received liposuction.
The information revealed that 800 people serving between April 2014 and March 2016 also had obesity-linked type 2 diabetes. The 800 is broken down into 473 in the army, 147 in the navy and 180 in the RAF. Since 2003, over 50 people have lost their jobs in the military for failing fitness tests.
Members of the armed forces undergo regular fitness tests and they also have a fitness routine that will see them do at least four hours of training sessions a week. According The Sunday Times, the Ministry of Defence said the figures were a "minimum" as personnel could be seeking out procedures or medication on their own.
Army fitness requirements depend on the job but troops are expected to run 1.5 miles in under 14 minutes; under 12 minutes 45 seconds for infantry and under 9 minutes 40 seconds for senior entry paratroopers.
Colonel Richard Kemp told The Times that the soldiers would not have entered the service overweight, so must have gained it while being part of the army. He said: "This is a failure of leadership. Who allowed them to get into this state? Who permitted them to continue to serve if they were unable to maintain the required standards of health and physical fitness?"
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said that the "vast majority" of its military personnel pass regular fitness tests.