Recent research has empirically documented a consistent penalty against heavier service members for events identical or similar to those in the physical fitness tests of the Army, Air Force, and Navy. These penalties, not related to body fatness, are based on biological scaling models and have a physiologic basis. Using hypothetical cases, we quantified the penalties for males, 60 vs. 90 kg body weight, and females, 45 vs. 75 kg, to be 15-20% for the fitness tests of these three services. Such penalties alone can adversely impact awards and promotions for heavier service members. To deal equitably with these penalties in a practical manner, we offer two recommendations:
- Implementation of revised fitness tests with balanced events: penalties of one event against heavier service members are balanced by an equal and opposite bias against lighter service members.
- Development of correction factors which can be multiplied by raw scores to yield adjusted scores free of body weight bias.
AMSUS: Society of the Federal Health Professionals
allometry, fitness testing, body weight bias
Vanderburgh, Paul M. and Crowder, Todd A., "Body Weight Penalties in the Physical Fitness Tests of the Army, Air Force, and Navy" (2006). Health and Sport Science Faculty Publications. 34.