HAVING a larger belly after Christmas is normal unless you’re in the Spanish Legion.

Soldiers in Spain’s elite fighting force have been told to shed the weight amid concerns their bellies will tarnish the reputation of the Legion.

Their low cut shirts, once the envy of Spain, have now become an embarrassment.

According to an internal report drawn up by the Brigade of the Legion’s Central Command (BRILEG), up to 3000 soldiers must undergo Body Mass Index (BMI) testing.

Followed by a programme of diet and exercise for those found to be overweight.

“BRILEG finds itself immersed in a situation which demands a series of measures to reduce excess weight among its personnel,” the report says, calling an end to what is described as a ‘difficult scenario’.  

Before adding: “Without a greater strictness, we will be condemned to the loss of prestige as a combat unit.”

The report also blames the high average age of Brigade members and ‘physical deterioration, boredom with the training methods and a general social acceptance of excess weight’.

Soldiers with a BMI of more than 27 will have to go on a diet and those who fail to trim down will face being put on a disciplinary.

This includes being banned from military parades and other public commitments as well as the loss of bonuses, and expulsion from overseas operations.

If, after a year of diet and exercise, the soldiers still have not shed the weight then they could be expelled from the Legion entirely.