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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Initiative against Obesity, Diabetes Advances

May 12, 2006, 08:00:00 AM

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Internet Harnessed for Veterans' Health

FORT MONROE, Va. – Setting his sights on the twin maladies of obesity and diabetes, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs today announced the launch of a national registration campaign to let veterans and their families tailor their diets and exercise programs into a healthful lifestyle.

“Good nutrition and physical activity can help millions of Americans preserve the independence that would be threatened by diabetes and being overweight,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson. “We want everyone to know that they can act now, before it is too late, and VA has the tools to help.”

The new health care assessment is part of a campaign called MOVE – Managing Obesity/Overweight for Veterans Everywhere – which is part of the HealthierUS Veterans program sponsored by the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to reduce obesity and diabetes, a disease often associated with being overweight.

Patients enrolled in VA's health care program can complete an interactive on-line questionnaire about their health status, nutrition and exercise.  Based on their information, veterans and family members receive a custom report with health information and instructions for follow up with the staff of a VA medical center. 

“Our prescription for America’s veterans is simple,” said Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, VA’s Under Secretary for Health.  “We want them to eat healthy, be active, and get fit for life.  Their service in uniform taught veterans what it takes to achieve a high level of fitness.  We’re helping them stay that way.”

People not enrolled in VA's health care program can log into  and answer 23 questions.  They will receive an individualized report giving them suggestions about making changes in their eating and physical activity and referring them to materials on the Web site.

Nicholson said VA medical centers nationwide are starting an aggressive effort to counsel and follow up with patients who express interest in managing their weight.  

The VA secretary spoke at the annual National Veterans Golden Age Games in Hampton, Va., where nearly 600 veterans aged 55 and older tested their mettle in competition at the nation’s largest sporting event for older veterans.  The Games are co-sponsored by VA and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Launching the program at the Golden Age Games allows participants to register for MOVE on computers set up for them in Hampton.

VA estimates that 70 percent of its patients are overweight, compared to 64 percent of the U.S. population.  Diabetes also affects a greater percentage of veterans in VA’s health care than the general U.S. population.  

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