Mexico City is paying police officers 1,000 pesos (about US $50) a month to exercise with the expectation that they will lose weight and become better equipped to perform their duties.
More than 1,000 officers have signed up for the Healthy Police program, which involves attending fitness classes and following a healthy eating plan.
At a recent fitness session on a sunny morning in the capital, instructor Javier Ramírez told the news agency AFP that the three-month old program “is a way to fight the obesity problem we have in Mexico, the sedentary lifestyle.”
“We want [police] to be in optimal condition so they can do their jobs effectively,” he added.
Taking a break from the session of push-ups, squats and crunches, 36-year-old policewoman Graciela Benitez told AFP that her health was poor and she got tired at work before starting the program.
“I used to feel sleepy after lunch. I was tired when I got to work. Now, I don’t get tired. My body feels the difference,” she said.
Benitez has shed 10 kilograms since joining the program, which also offers nutrition advice.
Mauricio Barrera, a 26-year-old officer who has lost 16 kilograms since starting the program, said the experience has been life-changing, adding that he now finds it easier to get through his 12-hour shifts.
“This was all completely new to me . . .The first month was tough, both mentally and physically,” he said. “But the program has helped me understand that obesity is an illness.”
Authorities in Mexico City hope that officers like Benitez and Barrera will serve as an example to other overweight and obese police in the capital’s 83,000-strong force.
A 2018 report by the national statistics agency, Inegi, said that just under 80% of police officers in Mexico are overweight or obese, while about three-quarters of the general population suffer from the same conditions.
A report published by the newspaper Reforma in June said that as many as 1,300 Federal Police officers failed to meet weight requirements to join the National Guard. Some of the portly police were instead assigned to positions with the National Immigration Institute.
Source: AFP (sp)