How to keep your cholesterol down in the military
Some airmen and Marines say the military is failing to provide proper nutrition and weight-loss counseling and dietitians are taking over.
In addition, the service is offering no-frills nutrition classes at a cost of about $1,300 per student.
“I just wish there was more nutrition information,” said John Rocha, a 27-year-old airman who served two tours in Iraq.
“I think there should be some of that information.”
The military has spent $100 million in the past decade to help troops stay on track with their weight-gain goals.
But many are concerned the food and counseling programs are not delivering the results they should, said Air Force nutritionist Lisa Daugherty, who also serves on the advisory council for the Air Force Weight Loss and Dietetics Council.
A study by the U.S. Department of Defense found that more than 40 percent of service members did not take part in any diet classes or workouts in the latest fiscal year, and that more men than women were in the workforce with a greater weight.
The Pentagon has not yet issued a recommendation to Congress on whether to make military nutrition classes mandatory, but the Defense Department is already working to develop and implement a pilot program.
In the meantime, Daugeries is offering nutrition classes through her company, Weight Management Inc., which specializes in military nutrition and dietetics.
Daughers said she’s seen a shift among the more than 400 members of the service that has been through the transition.
Some military service members said they were surprised to learn that some of the best advice on weight-management came from nutritionists, who often say their skills aren’t as advanced as those of doctors.
“It is definitely a misconception that there are no dietitators,” said Lance Cpl.
Scott D’Arcy, an Army sergeant first class who served in Afghanistan in 2012.
“There are a lot of nutritionists.
The problem is, they are getting more and more of what they are not getting.
They are making up their own numbers.”
D’Arcscy said he thinks the service should look at providing nutrition education at all times and be proactive in helping its members lose weight.
“I don’t think it’s the place to ask somebody if they want to lose weight, and then have them eat a bagel and a sandwich,” he said.
“You have to do it yourself.
That’s what the military should do.
They have to be able to manage that and have the best nutrition.”
Daugherty said the service can do better.
“The military is not doing enough to get the nutrition education, and we need to change that,” she said.
The military dietitia has been trying to change this, as well.
In 2014, the agency created a nutrition education curriculum for enlisted personnel that emphasizes the importance of eating healthy.
But it has been criticized for its lack of details and has not updated its curriculum since 2016.