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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Servicemembers may be getting “fit to fight” under the new Air Force physical training program, but one of the branch’s doctors feels spouses may be getting left behind.

“There’s a lot of help for the active-duty members. … They’re getting the message,” said Capt. J. Eric Bermudez, a family physician. “But there’s a very large percentage of dependent spouses who are overweight and out of shape.”

The chronically overweight, he said, risk medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and forms of cancer — especially colon cancer.

To educate his patients on the dangers of obesity, Bermudez said, he’s compiled an information packet on eating healthy and losing weight and written three articles on the subjects.

The first step to losing weight, he said, is motivation and desire. “Any time I talk to people, I talk about the psychological aspect — it’s not a change of diet but a change of mind-set,” Bermudez said. “If you don’t approach it the right way, you’re going to go back to the old way.”

Once inspired, people should visit a health-care provider and get educated, Bermudez said.

Those trying to lose weight are encouraged to minimize the amounts of refined sugar and flour eaten every day. That’s why many people are obese, he added, noting that products with those ingredients increase appetite.

Bermudez said a good goal is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, along with whole grains. He said the whole grains absorb water in the stomach to help dieters feel full. Drinking eight glasses of water each day also is part of a good diet.

Along with a good attitude and diet, exercise is key to dropping pounds, Bermudez said. He recommends at least one hour of exercise per day, and said aerobics, jogging and using exercise machines are some of the best forms of exercise.

"When sweat beads up and rolls down your head, that’s when fat burn begins,” he said. “It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get to that point.”

For those interested in learning more about nutrition, Bermudez said, the Kadena Health and Wellness Center offers a Nutrition/ Fitness 101 class at 1:30 p.m. the third Thursday of every month. Call DSN 634-2499 for more information.

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