Roughly 60 police officers from Thailand are taking part in a 12-day boot camp to combat the force's growing problem of obesity.

The program, which includes activities such as jogging, aerobic dance classes, tai chi, and yoga, comes after last year's 200,000 police officer checkups, which reported obesity and high cholesterol as the greatest health concerns. Liver problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes ranked as the next most severe.

The officer who loses the most weight will win a 5,000-baht ($160) bonus — a considerable incentive in a country where police officers seldom receive adequate pay. Many police officers say the personal accomplishment of weight loss motivates them the most.

"The school children call me 'Uncle Fat' all the time," said 49-year-old Sgt. Maj. Wanchat Phonorthong, who stands six feet tall and weighs 293 lbs. "But I don't mind. I'm more concerned about my health, because I have diabetes."

Officers enrolled in the boot camp will wear T-shirts that read "Get rid of the belly," a goal that Phonorthong says he has every intention of reaching.

"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 said.

Police officers often engage in more unhealthy behavior than other professions, despite the heightened need for physical fitness, said Col. Pornpen Bunnag, who designed the course and heads the Family Medicine Department at Bangkok's Police General Hospital.

"Police officers tend to have higher health risks than some other professions because they don't eat and sleep on a normal schedule," she said. "Eating at the end of late-night shifts, drinking and smoking all contribute to their obesity."

American law enforcement agencies typically require fitness regimens to keep their officers in shape. One program for the Los Angeles Police Department goes a step further and gives participants in the hiring process the opportunity to get in shape earlier by participating in their Candidate Assistance Program (CAD).

The CAD works to build a foundation of fitness in the applicants before they endure four qualifiers during the Police Academy. It includes running, push-ups, sit-ups, and an obstacle course to simulate real-world scenarios — such as dragging a 165-lb. body over the course of 32 yards.

Bunnag added that while fitness is one of the police officer's highest priorities, she doesn't consider it the only one.

"Their potbellies make them look less sharp in their uniforms," she admitted.