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How Andaman Police chief made fitness a weighty matter for his cops

National Health Survey said 45 per cent men, 38 per cent women of Andaman were obese

Andaman police collage A collage showing (clockwise from left) DGP Satyendra Garg, constable Francis and constable Johnie | Supplied

The Andaman and Nicobar Police has some of the heaviest policemen in the country, a problem that has left its chief, Satyendra Garg, perplexed. The two heaviest policemen of Andaman and Nicobar Police weighed 146 kg and 104 kg respectively when the entire police force was measured for the first time to assess their fitness.

Garg, a 1987-batch IPS officer of AGMUT cadre, was posted to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in December last year. A former joint secretary in the ministry of home affairs, who has also served in Delhi Police, Garg was pleased to see lower crime rates but soon he faced a unique challenge when Andaman Police force turned out to be more overweight and obese than people of the islands who are the heaviest people in the entire country.

In January, the DGP conducted the first health survey of policemen in the Union territory, including IPS officers and policemen of all ranks, where he found that the Andaman Police personnel were worse off than civilians living on the island in terms of health and obesity problems.

According to the fifth National Health Survey, 45 per cent men and 38 per cent women of Andaman and Nicobar were overweight or obese.

“The NHS survey rang alarm bells for me and I decided to conduct a health survey for the police force. While we expect policemen to be fitter, the results were alarming,” Garg told THE WEEK.

He found that the policemen were worse off on all parameters when compared with the civilian population.

For Garg, low crime rates and handling a small police force of 4,600 personnel, gave him time to help the islands’ policemen.

Regular medical check-ups, weight-loss programmes, health awareness and fitness regimes are being monitored by the police chief.

Every Saturday, Garg meets the two police constables who have the worst body mass Index of over 40 for counselling. They have lost a lot of weight and have improved their health parameters. On the small islands, the duo has gained celebrity-like status for their success at weight loss.

Soon, Andaman Police will be the first police force to document its study on obesity and ill health challenges facing policemen and circulate it to all police forces in the country.

The study entails documenting the degree of fitness of the 4,600 policemen of Andaman; how they were tested on the basis of their height, waist, chest ratio, BMI and other parameters, comparing it with the standard requirements for policemen when they join the force. “There was a wide discrepancy. When the policemen joined the force, they were fitter,” he said.

“Recently, we lost two policemen to heart attack and brain haemorrhage, and both were overweight,” Garg said.

But the silver lining is that the two heaviest policemen are setting an example for their counterparts in other police forces who may follow suit.

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