Wednesday, September 08, 2004

IDF fights the battle on flab.....

It is so rare to find an article about the IDF in the foreign press which doesn't refer to "the occupation" that this article on Sky News' website, caught my eye. It focuses on an article in Bamachane, the IDF's magazine, which has found that 57% of IDF soldiers are overweight.

This would clearly be a very worrying statistic were it not for the fact that the article goes on to clarify that:

"...the biggest problem was middle-aged spread affecting soldiers between the ages of 45 and 54."

I'm going to take an educated guess that the next biggest problem was with soldiers between the ages of 30 and 45. Once it becomes clear that the article is mainly dealing with the professional army and not the infantry brigades who are doing the actual fighting, this becomes a non-story.

The professional army, to a large extent, is a reflection of society. Those who sign on do not generally go on to command front line troops but rather settle into administrative jobs of one kind or another which, as with any other desk job, has the potential to lead to an increasing waist size. An exacerbating factor is that most of these soldiers will eat at least one, if not all of their meals on base. Mentioning the words "Atkins" or "low-carb" around an army kitchen will tend to get you blank looks. A typical meal will involve stodgy, greasy foods in (un)healthy quantities and large helping sizes - I generally gain weight when on Miluim, not the reverse as you might think.

The article goes on to highlight where my taxes have been going:

"Previous reports highlighted the problem of Israeli men gaining weight in their mid-20s after finishing their three-year, compulsory service."

Do we really need not just one report but "reports" (presumably commissioned at considerable expense) to tell us that once you remove a young man from an environment, where for 3 years he has been extremely physically active with specific attentive to fitness training, he will put on weight? I feel a Nobel prize coming on...

Whilst the trend towards obesity in society is an issue that should cause concern, with all its allied health problems, it is not specifically an Israeli problem and does not seem to be going away. Obesity is on the increase in the western world, not least in the USA where pretty much everything appears to be supersized.

For anyone who is in any way familiar with the Israeli army the article should not represent any major surprise other than that it is appearing in what I believe is termed a "drop the dead donkey" story - the type of sad / interesting tidbit that gets added on right at the end of the news on a particularly slow day but which can be easily dropped if something - anything happens.

Looking forward to a year full of slow news days...



Jack's Shack said...

There was a similar piece about the German army recently. Some problems are universal, now if the weapons turned to fat as well...

Anonymous said...

It's a problem afflicting every army all around the world. But the real problem is that in the rich and wealthy west il afflicts an high percent of the population (me too, unfortunately).
Have a nice day
Barba -