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DoD Launches 'Healthy Choices for Life' Pilot Program

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2005 – DoD is launching a new preventive healthcare program called "Healthy Choices for Life," the department's senior medical adviser announced here Jan. 26.

The purpose of the Tricare-managed program is "to put information in the hands of individual servicemembers and family members so that they can change their behavior," Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service at the annual Tricare conference.

The program will focus on persuading people to quit smoking, to moderate drinking habits, and to exercise and lose weight in order to become and stay physically fit, he said.

Smoking cigarettes and cigars, binge drinking and overeating/lack of exercise "are things we do to ourselves," Winkenwerder said.

Adopting more moderate health habits enables people "to avoid bad health outcomes and bad health problems" like lung cancer, emphysema, liver and brain damage, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, he noted.

Winkenwerder said about $13 million has been budgeted to fund pilot programs over the next few years. Some features of the pilot projects under consideration include 1-800-smoking- and drinking-cessation phone lines, and dedicated Web sites touting healthier lifestyles, he reported.

The program is envisioned as a DoD-wide and -managed endeavor rather than separate programs run by each armed service, he noted.

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Dr. William Winkenwerder

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Healthy Choices for Life

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