The recommendation that Police Officers should have to pass regular fitness tests has been greeted with protests by representatives of bobbies on the beat. However, it hardly seems unreasonable that a policeman/woman/person might at times have to step out from their patrol car, or from behind their desk to apprehend a miscreant, and that this might involve running down a street or jumping over a wall, and they should therefore be able to demonstrate the ability to do so. I would have thought this to be a genuine operational requirement. Members of the military take routine fitness tests, so why not the police?
The report found 52% of male officers in the Metropolitan Police were overweight, 22% obese and 1% morbidly obese, and, as The Times put it, “When the police are significantly fatter than the population as a whole, there's a problem that needs to be addressed.” I guess it’s all that time sitting on stakeouts (steak-outs?), burger and coke in hand.
However, we should perhaps be a little cautious with these figures. I presume they are measured on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI) of which I am highly skeptical – not least because according to my BMI I am overweight myself, which seems unlikely when I am running 40 miles or more a week. (BTW, don’t miss this opportunity to sponsor me!)
It’s a bit like another report that came out this week about the dangers of eating red meat. All the headlines were along the lines of, “Eat a steak and you will DIE!!! And die QUICKLY!!!!” but a little statistical analysis reveals that this isn’t quite the case. According to David Spiegelhalter, a Cambridge University biostatistician, and the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, "The person who eats more meat is expected to live one year less than the person who doesn't eat so much meat. You'd expect the 40-year-old who does eat the extra meat to live, on average, another 39 years, up to age 79, and the person who doesn't eat so much meat, you'd expect him to live until age 80."
79 or 80? Doesn’t make much odds to me. And I did very much enjoy the large steak I had for dinner on Monday. I’m sure it helped with my running.