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China's soldiers are getting too big to fit in their tanks

By Megan Morreale     Feb 18, 2014 in Health
The average Chinese soldier has grown taller and wider over the last few years, leading to cramped tanks and equipment and uniform problems.
The official People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper reported a survey of troops that began in 2009 revealed that the soldiers are growing.
Troops are now an average of two centimeters (three-quarters of an inch) taller and five centimeters (about two inches) bigger around the waist.
This change in growth has led to discomfort when trying to squeeze into tanks designed 30 years ago, as well as accuracy problems with rifle barrels that were designed for much shorter soldiers.
The report has led to the promise of adjustments being made with 28 body measurements taken into consideration when designing new firearms and other equipment, The Guardian reported.
The study centered around the physical welfare of thousands of troops and discovered a problem that is all too familiar with the U.S. military, reported the Washington Post.
"But there's a big difference here: American troops are too big because they're unhealthily overweight. Chinese troops are too big because nutrition is better, particularly in childhood, and they're more healthily robust. The troops, the survey found, have an average waistline five centimeters (about two inches) larger than the average 20 years ago. But average height has increased by two centimeters. In other words, this is a good problem."
What's interesting is that both trends are reflective of development. While we in the U.S. are familiar with China's rise, we can see how as the military became more modernized and less malnourished, the troops got a little taller and a little fatter.
In the U.S. it's a different story. As the country is moving from middle-income to high-income, we are becoming obese. This is a tendency for most countries, as shown in this study.
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