Big Fat Facts Big Fat Index

Dieting Kills Army Recruit

Via Jezebel.

The Chronicle-Telegram, an Ohio paper, reports that a local man died after being encouraged to crash diet by Army recruiters- Death from dieting: Coroner says crash regimen to make weight killed Army recruit.

Wilsey, 20, died on March 3 of acute cardiac dysrhythmia from an electrolyte imbalance caused by extreme dieting that included binging and purging, according to Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus.

Wilsey’s mother, Lora Bailey, said her son was determined to join the Army and lost about 85 pounds in 3½ months in hopes of fitting into a bomb disposal suit.

Midway through the process, her son, who was more than 6 feet tall, was told to step up his efforts, she said.

He went on an 800-calorie-a-day diet and began an intensive exercise regime that involved wearing a waist band as well as garbage bags or a scuba suit under two sets of sweat pants and a sweat shirt while he exercised.

“At that time, he was also told, coached, suggested, prodded — whatever word needs to be used — that ‘If you eat a big meal, it is OK to vomit that back up,’” she said.

He was a football player and wrestler in high school, and he did so well on the army entry exams that the recruiter wanted him to enroll in a training program for an elite bomb squad rather than training as a medic, as he had intended.

This was a fit, intelligent young man who wanted to serve his country by saving lives rather than taking them. What a horrible, senseless loss.

The coming Fatpocalypse | Half of British Women Avoid Sex Because of Poor Body Image

MichMurphy March 28th, 2011 | Link | Wait, so they're not saying

Wait, so they're not saying that he died of an inevitable heart attack brought on by being fat? Has the world gone mad? /sarcasm

That poor guy and his family. No one should have to go through that, Army or no.

Viola's picture
March 28th, 2011 | Link | His mother said he was over

His mother said he was over 6 feet tall. If he was 6'2", then his BMI at the time of his death was 25.3, which made him overweight by the BMI table. So he died trying to get to the weight that the government said was healthy for him.

BigLiberty's picture
March 28th, 2011 | Link | Gosh, this hits home for me.

Gosh, this hits home for me. One of the things that got me into fat acceptance was the absurdity that I would be outright rejected to join the Air Force because I was (at that time) 30 lbs over the weight limit (and was starving and exercising such that I knew I couldn't get to that weight without putting my health at serious risk), even though I had an advanced degree in mathematics, an undergrad degree in physics, and wanted to become an officer.

I was strong, active, smart, capable, healthy as a damned horse (though I was dieting already), and they were saying that wasn't good enough? Eff that! Something's really, really wrong with that.

I'm so sorry this poor boy died. God, could've been me. And is it obvious to anyone else that extreme weight loss techniques made popular and more acceptable by shows like Biggest Loser had a hand in this? On TV you don't see the likely horde of doctors monitoring the participants -- this boy was just marched through the gauntlet and thrown to the wolves.

Ten bucks some jerk in some Health and Wellness column or TV show remarks that it's because our kids are MORE OBESE that this boy died --- yanno, that he was SET UP TO FAIL BY HIS FATNESS or some crap like that, not because he was tortured to death by the culture of fatphobia which sees any regime or method to lose weight as preferable and safe compared to simply remaining fat.

DaniFae's picture
March 29th, 2011 | Link | Sadly, when it comes to the

Sadly, when it comes to the military this is common, even if you're already in. My husband's in the Air Force, and he failed his last PT test (because of a medical condition, that they were refusing to diagnose because "if he lost weight, his knees would stop hurting," turns out he has a deformity that they didn't catch until recently caused by malnutrition as a kid, but I digress). After the fail, he went on a crash diet to get some extra points from the waist measurement portion (yes, they get graded on how big about the middle they are, regardless of height or build). 600 calories a day, dizzy spells, he collapsed at work. All the while cheering him on for being a good Airman. I'm honestly surprised these stories aren't more common.

richie79's picture
April 2nd, 2011 | Link | What an utterly senseless

What an utterly senseless waste. The US Army seems to be obsessed with the BMI, despite its shortcomings when applied to active and muscular people being more widely accepted than its limitations as a measure of general health in sedentary folk. Now it would seem that its application is not just excluding the sort of fit and healthy recruits about whom Michelle Obama is apparently so concerned but killing them off too. It bewilders me that a bunch of lay-people posting on Internet blogs can understand this yet the massed 'expertise' of the US Govt - generals, army medics etc - somehow remain completely ignorant to it.

Emerald - I don't know whether the British arm of the Scouts disbars participation from activities on the basis of 'obesity' - I believe it's more tolerant than its conservative Christian US equivalent in terms of gay rights, atheism etc. However from what I've been led to believe they're every bit as obsessed with its 'prevention' as schools, the Guides etc. Unfortunately most childrens' / teenage clubs and organisations now see it as part of a wider social responsibility remit, and I suspect that rather than being motivated by malice toward fat kids the majority are just misguidedly jumping on the bandwagon without fully considering the potential for harm.

As expectant parents it all throws up some interesting questions, since (and ignoring the highly unlikely possibility of a massive cultural shift and anti-anti-obesity backlash in the next couple of years) our child will inevitably be exposed to the all-pervasive fat = bad message. Given the degree to which it has now become ingrained into every corner of social life and the demands from officialdom that children be made 'aware' at ever-younger stages, any attempts to shield him from it will be futile (besides, it's surely preferable to be aware of both sides of a debate). I suspect therefore that the best we can hope for (and at the risk of not only undermining his trust in adult figures of authority but inviting unwanted attention) is to attempt to counter and undermine it with age-appropriate contradictory messages. Has anyone had experience of 'deprogramming' kids who've been brainwashed by society's obsession with fat?

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

© 2000-2018 Big Fat Blog and its authors, all rights reserved. Big Fat Blog, Big Fat Facts, and Big Fat Index are our trademarks.