By JIM VINES
Veterans, could your first resolution of 2013 be to fit comfortably into your old uniform in 2014? While active-duty military personnel are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to civilians of similar ages, that benefit does not always persist after servicemembers become veterans.
A new study from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington in Seattle sought to quantify weight changes concurrent with and following discharge from the military. Analysis indicated that weight gain was greatest around the time of discharge from service and three years after discharge.
Several factors predisposed the study group to increased risks of clinically important weight gain. Discharge from the military, younger age, less education, being overweight initially, being in the active duty component as opposed to Reserve or National Guard and having been exposed to combat during deployment. Discharge from military service presents a window of risk and the opportunity to prevent unhealthy weight gain in military personnel and veterans, and this concerns the VA.
The VA can help. The MOVE! Program, the VA's national weight management program for veterans, can help with weight loss, keep it off, and improve health. Hundreds of veterans have lost hundreds of pounds in this program. Veterans receiving care in the VA can enroll in the MOVE! program by filling out a MOVE! 23 questionnaire. This form produces a 4-6 page report that is individualized and includes a list of recommended MOVE handouts containing nutrition, physical activity, and healthy behavior change information.
The MOVE! 23 questionnaires also produce a report for non-VA health care providers. Once completed, a copy should be forwarded to a health care provider for further advice on weight management. Veterans will find a lot of helpful information on the MOVE! website, including a link to the USDA's My Pyramid website, with a tracker tool which allows veterans to record food intake and calculate calories.