Some of Thailand’s overweight police officers are heading to boot camp to get in shape.
According to the Associated Press, about 60 officers from around the country are taking part in the program, which includes dawn-to-dusk exercise and lectures on healthy living at a police training center in a Bangkok suburb.
The officers start their day with pre-dawn jogs, and then move on to yoga and aerobic dance classes, as well as tai to reduce stress and improve blood flow. The officers then attend lectures from trainers and nutritionists.
At the end of the program, the officer that loses the most weight will receive 5,000 baht ($160).
“The school children call me ‘Uncle Fat’ all the time, but I don’t mind. I’m more concerned about my health, because I have diabetes,” said 49-year-old Sgt. Maj. Wanchat Phonorthong, a traffic officer who weighs 293 pounds.
“I’m going to lose some of my belly because they have me work out every day and they only give me half the food I usually eat. It’s torture but I have to do it for myself,” he added.
Last year, annual checkups for the country’s 200,000 police officers revealed that obesity was one of the most common concerns. High cholesterol, liver problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes were also big concerns.
Col. Pornpen Bunnag, who designed the course and heads the Family Medicine Department at Bangkok’s Police General Hospital, said police officers tend to have higher health risks than other professions because of their schedules.
“Eating at the end of late-night shifts, drinking and smoking all contribute to their obesity,” she said. Bunnag added that the officers’ potbellies “make them look less sharp in their uniforms.”
Thailand is also trying to straighten out its police force through public shaming. Misbehaving police officers will be forced to wear Hello Kitty armbands.
“Simple warnings no longer work,” said Col. Pongpat Chayaphan.
“This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor. Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps.”
Infractions range from littering, illegal parking, and tardiness.
“We should not let small offenses go unnoticed,” Chayapan said. “Guilty officers will be made to wear the armbands in the office for a few days, with instructions not to disclose their offenses. Let people guess what they have done.”
What do you think of Thailand sending its overweight officers to boot camp? What about making bad cops wear Hello Kitty armbands?