Amidst recent publicity about the increasing incidence of overweight and obese people in the population, a recent study compared the physical fitness levels of recruits entering the US Army in 1998 versus those who joined in 1978.
Not surprisingly, they found higher body weight - men were 12 percent heavier and women were 6 percent heavier; they also saw an increase in the percent of body fat: up 15 percent for men, up 5 percent for women.
On the other hand, measures of upper body strength, lower body strength and upright pulling strength found that the recent recruits were stronger on all measures than their 1978 counterparts: men were 16 percent stronger, and women were 12 percent stronger. The 1998 men had significantly more fat-free mass, which may account for their greater strength; women had slightly increased muscle mass.
Lifestyle changes - Exercise
Source: Sharp MA, Patton JF, Knapik JJ, et al. Comparison of the physical fitness of men and women entering the U.S. Army: 1978 - 1998. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, February 2002;34:356-363. (Abs.)