The Spanish Army has been forced to put some of its personnel on a diet amid fears that they are becoming obese.
The soldiers come from La Legión, an elite infantry regiment famed for their toughness, open-necked shirts and distinctive marching pace.
But recently, concerns regarding the regiment’s readiness to fight have emerged, prompting the Spanish Army to place some of its members on a diet.
According to an internal memo, published this week by Spanish newspaper El País:
“La Legión has ended up in a situation that requires a series of measures to reduce excess weight among its personnel.”
Of over 3,000 troops who underwent checks to determine their body mass index (BMI), 180 were found to have a score of 30 or above - putting them in the obese category.
The document said a lack of fitness facilities and a higher average age among legionnaires were factors.
The unit, however, noted that being overweight “can be due to cultural, pathological or even psychological factors that need to be properly considered”.
An army spokesman told the Guardian that the weight-loss initiative was designed to improve legionnaires’ wellbeing:
“The reaction has been very positive and the initial results are good,” he said.
“We’re seeing a lot of personal motivation in this, even though losing kilos is difficult.
“We just wanted to give them a helping hand.”
According to El País, the diet aims for the soldiers to lose between 0,5 and one kilo every week.
It constitutes of:
Breakfast: twice, yoghurt and a banana after waking up, tostada (bread with tomatoes) and orange mid-morning.
Lunch: a plate of salad and dessert (fruit, yoghurt). Only water to drink.
Snack: tea, milk or actimel. To eat, fruit or a cereal bar.
Dinner (not just before going to bed!): boiled vegetables or salad with some grilled meat.
However, the situation isn't much brighter for the British Army.
In December, figures revealed that almost 18,000 personnel are not medically fit to be deployed to all war zones.
This constitutes 22% of the force, raising fears that the Army could be left dangerously undermanned.
According to the numbers, nearly 8,000 of these soldiers are unable to fight because of physical or mental illness, lack of fitness or non-medical reasons, while the rest can only go on certain operations.
At the time, an Army spokesperson said: "The Army has enough people to perform its operational requirements to keep Britain safe.
“95% of posts are filled and in the last year we've recruited nearly 8,000 people into a variety of posts which will give them skills for life."