Policemen cruising in their cars eating doughnuts better change that stereotype fast if they want to stay in shape. Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found that eight out of 10, or 80 percent, of law enforcement workers in the U.S. are overweight.
“I think it’s important for all of us to keep the weight down and stay in shape — especially [with] this job,” Assistant Chief Jeff Bryan of the Garland Police Department in Texas, told CBS Dallas/Fort Worth. “The stress that we incur at this job… this is a great way to relieve the stress and to keep the blood pressure down.” Bryan added that it’s important for police officers to stay fit because “[w]hen you’re in a life or death struggle, you’ve got to win that fight.”
Research in the past has found that law enforcement personnel were 25 times more likely to die from weight-related disorders, like cardiovascular disease, than they were from actually fighting crime or getting into scuffles with criminals. But if police officers have to be fit in the beginning to get hired, why aren’t they maintaining their health if the job demands physical fitness? On a Reddit discussion thread titled ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5), a user wondered why it was possible for police officers to be fat. User quack_quack_moo responded: “To get a job they have to pass a fitness test; depending on what agency they work for they might not have to take that test ever again after getting hired.”
Most police officers spend their days sitting in their cars or at desks, but they must be prepared for sudden bursts of physical effort. Would you feel safe knowing that the majority of American police officers would probably get winded during a chase? Some police departments are trying to change that mentality, as well as the stereotype that police officers eat lots of doughnuts. Some departments have on-site gyms and are trying to encourage their members to work out more. During the past few years, as obesity rates have climbed, some police departments were also firing police officers for weighing too much.
The fact that America leads the world in rates of obesity, with the number of obese residents topping one-third of the population and growing, probably doesn’t help in this scenario. Eating fast food in huge portions and leading a sedentary lifestyle are now the norm in most of the country, and police officers certainly aren’t exempt from that.
“Somebody that did a full career in law enforcement? Average age was 60 — that’s when they died, at 60 years old,” Garland police spokesperson Joe Harn told CBS Dallas/Fort Worth. “So what we found out is if we’re going to improve and overcome that stress, we’ve got to stay in shape, we’ve got to control our weight if we want to live longer.” So, police officers better put the doughnut down and get on the treadmill for a bit.