Health & Safety

July 19, 2012

DOD leads drive toward healthier lifestyles

Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is taking a leading role in a governmentwide effort to stop the nation’s obesity problem, Barbara Thompson, the director of DOD’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, said.

DOD is one of 17 federal departments and agencies working together to identify opportunities for promoting healthy living as part of the White House’s National Prevention Council strategy, she explained.

“One part of that is preventing obesity,” Thompson told American Forces Press Service and The Pentagon Channel. “It has a huge impact on our quality of life, both for children and adults.”

Thompson noted a national increase in Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, believed caused by increased fat, salt and sugar in Americans’ diets at the same time that many children are less active than in previous generations. There was a 40 percent rise in childhood obesity between 1998 and 2008, she said.

The shift toward unhealthier foods and less exercise has developed over the past 30 years or so, and is having a huge impact on health, healthcare costs, and national security, Thompson said. “For the first time, we’re hearing that this generation will not live longer than their parents.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, issued a major report last month, “Lots to Lose,” written by two former Agriculture secretaries and two former Health and Human Services secretaries, that includes a case study of Defense Department initiatives to counteract obesity, Thompson noted.

DOD’s spending on healthcare is rising at twice the rate as the civilian sector and “unhealthy lifestyles and obesity, in particular, are significant contributors to this trend,” the report says. It has reached $50 billion annually, taking up 10 percent of the overall defense budget.

The trend is wreaking havoc on the services’ ability to recruit, creating a national security imperative, Thompson said, with only 25 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds able to meet the military’s weight standards. The majority of applicants rejected for military service today have obesity issues, she said.

In 2010, 59 percent of female recruits and 47 percent of male recruits failed the military’s entry-level fitness test, the report says.

Of those recruited, the services are seeing large increases in service members with bone fractures, thought to be the result of calcium deficiencies, and so many dental problems that 62 percent of new soldiers were not immediately deployable, the report says.

Preventing Obesity in Children

Thompson’s office instituted a “5-2-1-0” policy for the department’s schools and childcare centers, as well as civilian partners that serve National Guard and Reserve children. The numbers represent five servings of fruits and vegetables, restricting “screen time” — TV and computers — to two hours each day, ensuring one hour of exercise daily, and allowing no sweetened beverages.

“Policy is one of the most powerful tools we have to implement change,” Thompson said. “We’re sharing those lessons learned with civilian community.”

“The bottom line is that we have to make healthy options available and affordable. And parents need to know how important fruits and vegetables are — and small serving sizes.”

Thompson also said, limit electronics, not only because they make kids sedentary, but also because of the advertising. The food industry spends $10 billion annually in marketing food — most of it high in salt or sugar — to children, according to the “Lots to Lose” report.

As part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to end obesity in a generation, First Lady Michelle Obama has asked food companies with advertising aimed at children to make their products healthier. Last month, Walt Disney became the first to introduce new standards for food advertising to kids. All foods marketed on Disney’s television and radio channels will be required to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines — which align with federal standards to promote fruit and vegetables and limit calories, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat — by 2015, Disney officials said.

Preventing Obesity in Service Members and Families

The military is working to help service members and their families stay healthy. The Military OneSource website, www.miltaryonesource.mil, offers health coaches for adults and teens to help with weight management and to meet their overall health goals, Thompson said.

And, the first lady’s “Joining Forces” campaign recently announced that health clubs that are part of the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association are offering free memberships to immediate family members — teens and older — of deployed reservists and National Guard members. Clubs may provide additional benefits such as childcare, children’s programming, group classes, discounts for veterans, and discounts for active duty families. Participating clubs can be found at www.healthclubs.com. Also, the American Council on Exercise is offering free training and fitness instruction to family members of deployed reservists and National Guard members. Participating instructors can be found at www.acefitness.org/joiningforces.

If the governmentwide efforts and those in DOD seem like a lot just to make Americans healthier, that’s the point, Thompson said.

“We all have to be in this together,” she said. “This is going to take a national effort to change these habits that have been ingrained in us for the past 40 years.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson)

Thunderbolt bounces back after belly landingThunderbolt bounces back after belly landing

On the evening of Sept. 30, an A-10 stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was coming back to base for a routine landing after completing a standard sortie. Just when everything seemed to be going as planned, disaster struck...
 
 
Richardson_pict

Down and out at Dyess: Air Force Assistance Fund to the rescue

It was scary, leaving home and joining an organization such as the United States Air Force. The people, job, and location were all brand new. When I joined the military, I came from a less than honorable home life.  I come fro...
 
 

SrA and below EPR static closeout date to be March 31

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Enlisted evaluation and promotion changes, announced in July, continue with establishment of a March 31 enlisted performance report static closeout date (SCOD) for Regular Air Force (RegAF) senior airmen and below, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Dec. 5. Additionally, change of reporting official evaluations (CRO) have been...
 

 

Keep holiday sweet tooth in check

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Assorted sweets are a big attraction on display in stores and are advertised in television commercials. Despite the effort to escape purchasing them and knowing they’re not healthy, people still tend to crave, buy and gobble them up. On top of the negative impact these treats have on health...
 
 

Master sergeant evaluation board, SNCO promotion changes coming

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force continues the phased implementation of its Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) changes with the convening of a master sergeant evaluation board scheduled for May 2015. Evaluation and promotion system changes, scheduled for implementation over the next 16 months for active-duty Airmen, are focused on ensuring job perfor...
 
 

Davis-Monthan EOD detonates WW-II era mortar at Fort Huachuca

An explosive ordnance disposal team from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, safely detonated a World War II-era 81mm mortar on Tuesday at 10:43 a.m. in Area H, Slaughterhouse Wash, at the end of the Libby Army Airfield runway on Fort Huachuca. A rider on horseback reported a sighting of the unexploded ordnance to fort personnel...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin