FORT GORDON, Ga. (NNS) -- In response to the overwhelming impact obesity has had on the nation's troops, the Department of Defense debuted Operation Healthy Base in June 2013.
According to DoD data and the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one third of Americans are obese. The impact can be seen in the disqualification of one out of four recruits, due to their weight. Even with more than $3 billion spent toward obesity and tobacco-related health issues of active duty personnel, only four percent is spent on prevention. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center found that 86,186 active duty members were diagnosed as clinically overweight or obese in 2010, which is 5.3 percent of the entire military force. Mandated to reduce the force by tens of thousands, military commanders are forced to separate thousands of qualified active duty members because of their weight. More than 1,600 were dismissed from the U.S. Army alone in the first 10 months of 2012.
Some of the bases utilized for the demonstration period of the Healthy Base initiative are located on the eastern seaboard, near Fort Gordon. The Fort Meade initiative introduced an on-base farmer's market that offers fresh fruit and vegetables from local growers. Fort Sill's initiative enhanced youth programs to instill healthy lifestyles for military children. The joint initiative of bases Pearl Harbor and Hickam implemented "the common sense initiative" as described by base Navy Cmdr. Jeffry James, by adding local farmed products to the base commissary.
Of the 12 states ranked above the 30 percent obesity margin in a 2012 Center for Disease Control study (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia), Operation Healthy Base chose Fort Sill Oklahoma and Camp Dodge, Iowa as demonstration sites.
The initiative aims to reduce the $3.2 billion price tag of obesity and tobacco related medical costs for active duty military. Additionally, the goal is to broaden healthy food options and reduce the number of troops either discharged or denied service due to weight. With the motto, "Increased Health = Increased Readiness," the program is a kick start to a better fighting force and will ultimately link the military with the surrounding civilian community and promote healthy practices.
The healthy options on base include several dining facilities. DFAC 8 which is situated on 25th and B streets and DFAC 2 on 32nd Avenue. The latter was voted the best Army DFAC worldwide in 2011 based on preparation, taste, nutrition and service. Additionally, the Gordon Club at 19th and Barnes offers a lunch menu with many healthy hot and cold options and a full salad bar overflowing with fresh fruit and vegetables.
As a tenant command of Fort Gordon, Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Georgia follows the Operation Healthy Base Initiative mentality. The Command Fitness Leader Office, led by Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Kristina Koch, offers physical training, to include exercise alternatives such as yoga, pregnancy and post partum exercises and nutritional education. The office is also equipped with a cardio theater featuring a newly released movie for the viewing pleasure of Sailors wanting to take the alternative cardio portion of the physical fitness assessment. As a result, NIOC Sailors are equipped with the knowledge and increased awareness for choosing a healthy lifestyle.
For more information, visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/hbi and http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2012-03-13/fort-gordon-dining-facility-recognized-serving-best-us-army-food.
For more news from Navy Information Operations Command Georgia, visit www.navy.mil/local/niocg/.