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Tightening the belt: obese Scouts not allowed at US Jamboree

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Tightening the belt: obese Scouts not allowed at US Jamboree


The quadrennial US Boy Scout Jamboree opened at a new site in the West Virginia mountains on Monday. The inclusion of girls marks a first for the camp, as does one exclusion: Scouts deemed “dangerously overweight” are not allowed to join the jamboree.

The ten-day adventure camp in the New River Gorge region of the US has been designed to be extremely physically demanding. As such, the estimated 37,000 Scouts and Scout leaders who are attending this year’s Jamboree were required to meet certain Body Mass Index (BMI) standards, as well as other health factors. “We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven’t required before,” director of the Boy Scouts of America Summit Group, Dan McCarthy, told the Associated Press.

Somebody is considered morbidly obese if they are 45 kilograms over their ideal body weight – relative to their height – and have a BMI of 40 or higher. This figure decreases to 35 and above if the person has high blood pressure, diabetes or another obesity-related condition.

Scouts with a BMI of 40 or above have, therefore, been forbidden from entering the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, “that has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health” added McCarthy. Scouts with a BMI of between 32 and 39.9 were required to submit medical information for approval by the Jamboree’s organisers.

Activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, skateboarding and mountain biking are on the agenda at the ten-day camp, as well as a 4.8 kilometre uphill hike and a 914 metre zip wire.

“Teaching Scouts and Scouters how to live a sustainable life, which includes a healthy lifestyle, and the health of our participants are important goals of the Jamboree. We published our height-weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree. But, for those who couldn’t, most self-selected and chose not to apply,” Deron Smnith, spokesperson for the Scouts, confirmed to ABC News.

The Scouts were, apparently, unable to provide a ballpark figure for the number of youths that had been excluded from the Jamboree.

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