• Article

Smoking and body weight as markers of fitness for duty among US military personnel

Background: Both tobacco and overweight present serious threats to public health. Although the military has targeted both health issues, only weight status is included in tests of fitness. This study contrasted the relative utility of body weight and smoking as markers for fitness for duty. Methods: Using data from the 2002 Department of Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors among Military Personnel (N = 12,149; 24.7% female), troops were categorized according to weight (underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese) and smoking status (never smoker, former smoker, or current smoker). Results: Logistic models were developed to examine the usefulness of smoking status and weight status as predictors of items assessing four domains of military fitness for duty, namely, physical health, mental health, substance abuse, and legal problems. Smoking status was a consistent and strong predictor of items within all four fitness domains. In contrast, weight status was not a consistent predictor of fitness. Conclusion: The military should consider adding smoking status to assessments of military fitness. Also, given that underweight and not overweight status predicted negative outcomes among military members, the services should consider revising their weight status fitness standards


Haddock, CK., Pyle, SA., Poston, WSC., Bray, R., & Stein, RJ. (2007). Smoking and body weight as markers of fitness for duty among US military personnel. Military Medicine, 172(5), 527-532.