Tape test protest: One Marine takes his body-fat fight to the top


After his assignment to the dreaded Body Composition Program, Marine Staff Sgt. Jeff Smith ran a marathon in four hours and 22 minutes. (Photo by Josh Gaede)

Back in June, Marine Corps Times writer Hope Hodge reported on a Marine trying to fight the tape test standard.

Marine Staff Sgt. Jeff Smith “launched a petition on Whitehouse.gov asking that the military find another way to measure the body fat of Marines who exceed weight standards for their height,” Hope wrote.

She caught up with Smith for a recent issue of Marine Corps Times. She writes:

When Staff Sgt. Jeff Smith was assigned to the Marine Corps’ Body Composition Program in 2009, he knew what to expect. After all, he helped run the exercise portion of his unit’s BCP a few years prior.

The insults from peers and jokes about laying off the Twinkies and Ho-Hos rankled Smith even more because he was done in by the notorious tape test, which measured him at 20 percent body fat — just over the limit — when a caliper pinch test typically gauged him well within regulations at 16 percent. Having at the time suffered a shoulder injury, Smith knew he had put extra weight on his 5-foot-11, 211-pound frame. But he never felt like he fell out of fighting shape, proof of which, he says, is his respectable showing in the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon: four hours and 22 minutes.

Smith taped within regs again only weeks after his six-month BCP assignment ended, but the adverse mark on his personnel record continues to haunt him, he said. His daughters ask, “Why I don’t get promoted,” Smith, a 17-year Marine, told Marine Corps Times. “I said, ‘Because the Marine Corps says Daddy is fat.’ ”

Read the rest of Hope’s story over at Marine Corps Times.

Related: Marine petitions White House to revise tape test

Sara Davidson

Sara Davidson is an ultrarunner and contributor to PT365. She's run 7 marathons and 32 ultramarathons -- including her first 100-miler. This fall she is training for the Marine Corps Marathon using our PT365 Run Plan. Reach her at sdavidson@gannett.com .