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Philippine police officers will no longer need to meet a body mass index requirement in order to be promoted, according to an official police statement released on Tuesday, reported the Inquirer.
The Philippine National Police announced in November last year that officers hoping to get promoted, transferred, or further their studies would need to maintain a healthy BMI, per the Philippine News Agency .
BMI is a measurement of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. A range of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy, while anything above 30 is considered obese. To qualify for service in the Philippines, officers have needed to have a BMI between 18.5 and 27, depending on their age, according to the AFP.
The Southeast Asian country’s police force has a waistline problem — a 2019 study found 35% of the country’s police force were overweight, while nearly 10% were considered obese.
In a bid to encourage officers to lose weight, former Chief of the Philippine National Police Debold Sinas made it compulsory in November for the country’s 220,000-strong force to report their BMI and to exercise daily, according to the PNA.
Sinas said having a healthy weight was part of COVID-19 prevention measures, adding that obesity could lead to co-morbidities like heart disease and diabetes.
But the head of personnel for the PNP, Major General Rolando Hinanay, argued that the COVID-19 pandemic might be behind weight gain, since restrictions made it harder for officers to work out, and asked for more “understanding” and “sympathy.”
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the current chief of the PNP, said in a statement to the Inquirer that he approved the suspension of the rule, but added that it was only “temporary” and would resume once things “normalize.”