'Shed fat and earn a trip'

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 08 Jul 2004

KUALA LUMPUR: Fat soldiers should be rewarded with a holiday if they can shed at least 10kg in six months, said Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin. 

It is a better reward than monetary incentives, he said. 

He was commenting on reports that too many people in the armed forces were dying of illnesses related to diabetes, obesity and other diseases linked to a modern lifestyle. 

The army is worried about this and armed forces chief Jen Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin had said that discussions were under way on how to reward the successful weight losers. 

He has directed the director-general of the forces’ Health Services, Mej-Jen Datuk Dr R. Mohanadas to review current practices and ensure all military personnel were constantly in good health. 

Zainal Abidin felt it made sense to reward the weight-losers with a holiday, as they would have to practise a healthy lifestyle to maintain their body. 

Affected military personnel should heed Mohd Zahidi’s call, as maintaining a good physical form was vital in preparing themselves to safeguard the country, he told reporters at the Parliament lobby, yesterday. 

On whether there should be a special programme for the soldiers, he said: “They come under programmes carried out by the army’s Medical Corps.” 

Mohd Zahidi suggested that those above 40 should get medical check-ups once a year to ensure immediate treatment for those diagnosed with the early stages of any disease.  

He said that according to a study by the armed forces’ Health Services division, a worrying number of serving soldiers die of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity every year. 

He said of the 1,488 soldiers who died over the past 10 years, 20% died of chronic illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.  

“This is a worrying trend. Yet, premature deaths from chronic diseases can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle,” he said when launching the armed forces Health Week here. 

He also revealed that 55% of army personnel were smokers, and proposed that all army training institutions be made “no smoking” zones. 

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