Fat Filipino cops crack down on calories


Posted at Jun 23 2012 01:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2012 02:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines -  Fighting crime and chasing after criminals are not the only dangers Philippine police officers face in Manila.

A more urgent problem could grow larger if not addressed, in the form of the pot-belly.

Some 3,000 policemen in the headquarters of the Philippine National Police have joined an eight-week shape-up program, after weigh-ins showed that they were overweight.

The weight loss campaign also addresses risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity among police officers.

Senior Superintendent Bernardo Reamon Jr., weighing 220 pounds (99.7 kg), suffers from high blood pressure and high sugar levels.

Due to his weight, he says getting into his police uniform has become a task. And he's feeling the strain from more demanding physical activities.

"Sometimes the weight has an effect on the knees. So every time I run, I take care of my knees," Reamon said.

He aims to lose 20 pounds, and aside from joining the work-outs, he jogs and swims in his free time.

The weight loss program requires personnel to join twice-weekly sessions involving calisthenics, running, walking or biking, and lectures on proper diet and stress management.

Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome, an avid runner, led the track sessions along with fresh graduates from the police academy, while overweight officers tried to keep pace.

Bartolome said sedentary duties, like sitting at the headquarters desk and writing up reports, should not prevent police officers from maintaining their fitness.

"We are concerned about that, of course. We want our personnel to be fit in the performance of their job. How can they run after criminal elements if they are not fit physically?" Bartolome said.

The officers are the first to admit that their weight could get in the way of their police work.

"When we patrol with the motorcycle unit of the highway patrol, we can respond quicker if our bellies are not so big," Ranada said.

The weight watch is no light matter for the police officers. Three consecutive failures in the bi-annual physical fitness test could be grounds for getting kicked out of the service.

A WHO study showed that the overweight issue is present nationwide -- 23 percent of Filipino males and 44 percent of females are projected to be overweight by 2015.