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ARLINGTON, Va. — Overweight Marines and their commanders can now focus on combat instead of slimming down, said Lt. Col. Kristi VanGorder, who is in charge of the Marine Corps’ Body Composition Program.

Marines who are classified as overweight and in the war zone will no longer have to be weighed every two weeks and take nutrition classes if their commanders excuse them from the program, she said.

VanGorder could not say exactly how many Marines are in the program, though the number is small.

Under the weight-loss program, Marines who do not meet requirements have to take nutrition classes and have their weight checked every two weeks, Van- Gorder said.

But for Marines in the combat zone, losing weight is “not their first priority,” VanGorder said.

Also, commanders in Iraq said it was hard to juggle the administrative burden of carrying out the weight-loss program for Marines while conducting combat operations, she said.

So the Marine Corps decided to allow commanders to put overweight Marines on “inactive status,” excusing them from the weight-loss program, VanGorder said.

VanGorder said the change benefits both the Marines and their commanders.

“It relieves the commander of the administrative burden of trying to do the program: do it, conduct it, execute it,” she said. “It relieves the Marine of the responsibility, of the burden, of doing the classes that goes along with that, and it lets them both focus on the mission at hand.”

Marines listed as “inactive” will continue to be ineligible for promotion until they meet Marine Corps weight requirements, VanGorder said.

A Marine Corps order on weight regulations has a chart showing Marines’ minimum and maximum weight allowable per their height.

For example, male Marines who stand 5 feet 10 inches can weigh between 132 and 192 pounds, and female Marines of the same height can weigh 132 and 174 pounds, the order says.

Asked why Marines who do not meet these standards would be sent to combat, VanGorder said, “Just because you’re out of height and weight doesn’t mean you don’t have a mission to perform and don’t deploy.”

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