Pandemic weight gain is a real problem, as we all (looks down at belly) know. Nobody should be penalized for that, least of all our hardworking policemen—and so Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Guillermo Eleazar has confirmed that he has approved a prior recommendation to temporarily suspend the body mass index (BMI) requirement for PNP officers.
Under PNP Memorandum Circular 2020-029, officers are required to maintain an ideal BMI in order to attain promotions through the ranks. The requirement, adopted in December 2020, has faced protests from within the ranks over the past few months of its implementation.
BMI is a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight, and there are ranges that are considered healthy. BMIs of under 20 and over 25 have been linked to higher mortality rates. For Asians, a study by experts from the World Health Organization have recommended that BMIs of 23 or higher be considered as having increased risk, while BMIs of 27.5 and above are considered high risk.
The BMI recommendations for PNP personnel are still up on their website, and it shows us that their guidelines are a bit more relaxed than the WHO guidelines.
The PNP’s charts show that, for officers 40 years old and below, a BMI of 18.5 to 25.5 is within normal-to-acceptable ranges, with lower limits for younger people.
However, under the WHO study, ranges of 18.5 to 23 represents “increasing but acceptable risk” while 23-27.5 BMIs is considered to be “increased risk”; anything higher than that is considered high risk.
The PNP Directorate for Personnel Records Management (DPRM) recommended the suspension of the BMI requirements late last month—because of the current pandemic, as limited movement has prevented police personnel from achieving their ideal BMI.
“Pursuant to our mandate of ‘Personnel Welfare is Above All’, this Directorate respectfully recommends the suspension of the implementation of BMI as a requirement for promotion amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the conduct of review of the policy to address both the concern of the organization and the welfare of our personnel,” the recommendation read.