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India policemen told to slim down or lose job

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An Indian police force has told its officers to lose weight or face suspension from service.

The chief of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) told the BBC that he was worried about the increasing number of obese personnel in the force.

Bhaskar Rao added that he took the decision after more than 100 officers died in the last 18 months because of lifestyle-related illnesses.

The officers will be provided help to change their lifestyle and diet.

The KSRP, which has 14,000 personnel, is often called to provide security for big events, and also to control situations like riots and violent agitations.

Senior officers of the KSRP have been told to identify obese policemen, and put them on an exercise routine to help them lose weight.

“We started the process of monitoring their [KSRP officers’] sugar and other health indices six months ago. The latest circular that they will face suspension and removal from employment is a threat to those who who are careless [about their health],” Mr Rao told BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi.

It’s not uncommon to see Indian policemen struggling with weight issues.

“In the last 18 months, 153 of our men have died. Out of these, 24 died in road accidents and nine killed themselves. The rest have died due to lifestyle-related diseases like cardiac problems and diabetes. This is the biggest wake-up call that a force can get,” Mr Rao added.

He added that officers ate mostly rice-based fried food, smoked, drank, and did not exercise. Platoon commanders “have been told to routinely monitor the body mass index (BMI) of every policeman”, Mr Rao said.

The KSRP has started providing classes in swimming, yoga and other sports to officers.

“Of course, their exercise regimen is conducted after medical examination and activities are decided on the doctor’s advice,” he said.

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