Obese Army: Forces pays for weight loss surgery

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Wellness and fitness are increasingly important employer concerns, but would you fund your employee’s weightloss surgery?

That’s the surprising step taken by Canada’s National Defense department, which has reportedly funded about a dozen operations a year for morbidly obese troops.

The personnel have to have a body mass index of at least 35, the equivalent of a 5’10” person weighing 245 pounds. Candidates for the funded surgery must also suffer from a related illness, such as diabetes or hypertension to qualify for the service. The scheme costs the Forces about $200,000 annually.

The operations have been funded for about 10 years, but the number of patients had increased in the last few years, according to Canadian Forces health services spokeswoman Maj. Nicole Meszaros.

“It’s just a reflection of society today,” said Maj. Meszaros.

Being morbidly obese did not necessarily mean a service member was unfit to serve, Maj. Meszaros said. “I know several people who fit into that category, and I know that they are still able to meet all the conditions imposed upon them.”

She described one soldier who weighs close to 300 lbs. yet just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, and can run 10 kilometres.

Would you consider contributing to an employee’s weightloss surgery?


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