Overweight and out of shape recruits for police, fire, and emergency medical services are presenting increasing problems around the nation, reports USA Today. When the Jackson, Ms., Police Department tried to recruit new officers this spring, more than a third of the applicants were not able to pass the initial physical fitness test. The city’s police academy’s initial fitness exam includes push-ups, a 1½ mile run, an obstacle course, and a flexibility test, Deputy Police Chief Gerald Jones said. “What we are finding is a decline in overall physical strength,” he said. “They can’t complete the mile-and-a-half run.”
Harvard School of Public Health Prof. Stefanos Kales said researchers “consistently find that among police and firefighters, generally three-quarters are overweight and that includes one-third that are obese.” The picture may be worse, he said. Some departments have lowered physical strength standards to avoid discrimination lawsuits.