A police official in the Indian state of Assam has told overweight police officers that their body mass index (BMI) is to be “professionally recorded” from mid-August and that officers in the “obese” category must reduce their BMI before November or retire from the force.
“We plan to give three months’ time to all Assam police personnel [before tests begin],” read a Tuesday tweet from GP Singh, director-general of Assam’s police force. “All those who are in the obese range (BMI 30+) category would be offered another three months’ time to reduce weight.”
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Singh indicated that he would be the first officer to have his BMI measured and that any colleagues who have legitimate medical ailments such as hyperthyroidism will be exempt from the measures.
This follows a statement in recent weeks made by Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, that approximately 300 police officers deemed to be “habitual drinkers” and “physically unfit” would be asked to take early retirement, amid what he said was a drive to “cut the deadwood out of the police force.”
According to reports by the Times of India, several police officers in Assam have been suspended following incidents which involved them being intoxicated while on duty. Studies have determined that police officers in India are often required to work irregular, long shifts and often without appropriate rest or breaks, the BBC reports.
In 2018, police officers in Karnataka state were also required to lose weight or face reprimand. The BBC stated at the time that a police official said the measure was introduced after high-ranking police officers were dying from “lifestyle-related diseases” such as cardiac issues or diabetes.
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A person’s BMI relates their height to their weight. It is frequently used as a metric by healthcare providers to determine whether a person’s weight is problematic to their overall health and wellbeing.
However, critics maintain that BMI is too blunt an instrument to adequately determine if a person is overweight, given that it does not differentiate between a person’s body fat and their lean muscle.