News: HAWC program provides tools to defeat obesity
Story by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. - Malmstrom’s 341st Medical Operations Squadron Health and Wellness Center will begin its newest health management program March 18 and 19.
“Weapons of Mass Reduction,” geared specifically toward serving the needs of airmen and civilians assigned to support the unique mission of the 341st Missile Wing, aims to attack obesity.
“The Air Force Medical Operations Agency has always had an initiative to combat high body mass index,” said Kirk Clark, 341st MDOS HAWC exercise physiologist. “Their programs haven’t always worked with Malmstrom’s mission.”
According to Clark, a typical health management program lasts five days with each class lasting for three hours or more. So, he and 341st MDOS HAWC Dietician Jacquie Maillet created their own program.
“Jackie and I have been kicking the idea of this program around for three years,” Clark said. “We’ve changed the delivery to give the attendees what they want – time. Because we have so many people who work crazy shifts, we had to focus on the time of these classes.”
Clark noted that coming up with the name was easy.
“It fits with the missile wing's mission and it’s catchy,” he said. “It's all about selling the program.”
WMR includes two classes, each class runs one hour and 30 minutes, with a simple goal.
“The stressors we often face drive weight onto us,” Clark said. “In this program, we focus on instilling positive thoughts about diet and exercise.”
The diet-related portions of the program include instruction on areas such as snacking, caloric intake, eating out and where to find hidden calories. Exercise instruction covers the importance of exercise intensity, duration and routine selection.
“We give them usable tools that, if applied, will increase their fitness goals,” said Maillet. “We also recommend to people to use sites like www.sparkpeople.com or www.myfitnesspal.com to build their plan to meet their goals.”
Maillet urges individuals to follow up with the HAWC after classes.
“If this is their effort to reach a better health state, then the accountability will help them,” she said.
In the coming weeks, individuals, who have visited the clinic recently and their height and weight was taken showing their BMI was greater than or equal to 30, will receive a letter inviting them to the class.
“BMI is an equation that looks at an individual’s height-to-weight ratio,” Clark said. “If you receive the invitation and you think, ‘This BMI stuff is bologna,’ don’t leave it at that. Come in and get a body composition analysis using our system. The results will tell you your percentage of lean and fatty tissue.”
During his 17-year tenure at Malmstrom, Clark has lost two airmen to weight-related heart attacks – a statistic that drives his career focus of combating obesity.
“In human nature we don’t always do what is best for us,” Clark said. “We try making excuses for our current state. We have to accept where our body is, accept where it should be and move forward with change in our own lives. If we’re not willing to change, we’ll stay on the path of unhealthiness. It’s not about the class. It’s about these individuals’ lives.”
For more information or to sign up for the program, call the TRICARE appointment line at 731-4633. The two-day, hour-and-a-half long classes are scheduled twice monthly, running from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The program is available for anyone age 19 and up, including military members, dependents, retirees and their spouses. Individuals 18 and younger, who don’t qualify, may call the HAWC for one-on-one diet and exercise counseling.