By Jim Forsyth
You might think of people in the U.S. miltiary as the fittest, healthiest people around, but the Pentagon says in many cases the opposite is true, so the entire U.S. military is in for a fitness checkup.
"Active duty and reserve component members, military children and spouses, retirees, Department of Defense civilians, more than 10 million people we have responsibility for,"
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson told 1200 WOAI news.
He says the massive program, called Operation Live Well
, will affect every one of those individuals. He says every single program in the military, from basic training to military hospitals, will be scoured to determine if it is meeting the objectives of creating a healthier fighting force.
Woodson says in many cases, members of the military are actually in worse shape than their civilian counterparts.
"Poor nutritional choices, sedentary lifestyle, increase in weight, development of diabetes and the like," he said. "Our service members are also using tobacco productions at a higher rate than their civilian peers, and this is something that we have to focus on with great intensity."
Woodson says a 'healthy and fit force' is essential to national security as service members must be physically prepared to deploy in a moment's notice anywhere on the globe to extremely austere and demanding conditions.
Woodson says encouraging healthy lifestyles, including no smoking, healthy meals, and physical fitness, will also reduce TRICARE medical expenses.
Woodson says the program will take other facets as well, including examining all miltiary training to prevent accidents and injuries.
"Being overweight or obese is one of the leading reasons for early discharges from the active duty force," Woodson said, pointing out that is simply one of the many costs associated with unhealthy activity.
He says the program will focus on 'making informed nutritional food choices, increased physical activity, weight management, and tobacco cessation.
Woodson says this program will not be voluntary, and will not be easily ignored, as it will touch every single aspect of the military.