Bolivia cracks down on obese soldiers and officers by refusing uniforms and promotions

President Evo Morales said he wants soldiers to be as fit as world-class athletes

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The Independent US

Overweight soldiers and police in Bolivia have been ordered to shape-up after President Evo Morales said that they should be fit enough to compete in international athletics.

President Morales suggested that military personnel and officers who neglected their fitness should not be promoted and insisted that staying in good shape was a “responsibility” of the security forces.

Military officials plan to record each soldier's weight and their fitness will be taken into account for any future promotions.

Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra has said soldiers “must be prepared both on an intellectual and physical level,” the BBC reported.

Police chiefs have forbidden overweight recruits - who would measure 25 to 29.9 on the Body Mass Index (BMI) - from wearing uniforms and have demanded they patrol plain-clothed until they slim down, it is also claimed.

However, soldiers and officers have complained of the lack of sports facilities before the government stepped in to supply training equipment to barracks and stations to reach fitness targets.

In the UK, more than 25,000 military personnel were measured by the BMI scale to have been too overweight to perform frontline duties after a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence revealed the statistics.

The BMI claims to measure body fat based on the total mass and height of a person.

The MoJ refuted the claims and insisted its men and women “must be healthy” and “fit to handle everything in a case of emergency.”

A spokesperson for the government department said: “It is misleading to focus solely on BMI as this does not differentiate between bodyweight that is due to muscle mass and that which is body fat.”