According to an old bit of wisdom, an army marches on its stomach. It stands to reason that the healthier the food that goes into soldiers' stomachs, the healthier soldiers will be, so the IDF has begun a program designed to encourage soldiers to eat more healthfully, exercise more, and take better care of their teeth.
The program's centerpiece is an army base in northern Israel, where the diet of soldiers -mostly new recrutis - has been completely transformed, said Dr. Shai Goren, medical officer at the base. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Goren said that the program has already shown results, “in the health of soldiers' teeth, and other areas.”
All soldiers serving at the base undergo a battery of health tests to see what condition they are in, and are given instruction in how to live a more healthy lifestyle. For example, all soldiers visit a dentist, and are given a high-quality toothbrush – and shown how to use it, with many learning for the first time how to properly brush their teeth.
The base also has a gym, where soldiers can exercise. Although many of the soldiers are in good physical shape, there is a tendency among many to overeat, and eventually the kilos pile up. The soldiers also get lectures on nutrition and proper eating, in the hope that they will lay off the junk food, at least to some extent.
Goren said that the program was designed to prevent future health problems. “We plan to expand this program to other bases,” Goren said. “We don't want to wait until soldiers develop diseases, but to prevent them.”
The IDF Northern Command's Medical Director, Dr. Pini Bar Chama, said that the program was “an attempt to get actively involved in the health of soldiers. The program includes lectures and workshops on dental hygiene, proper nutrition, and long-term health issues.” For a good number of the soldiers, he added, “this was the first time they were exposed to these issues.”