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Policemen in the Buenos Aires province in July 2010
Policemen in the Buenos Aires province in July 2010
Valeria Román

BUENOS AIRES — The problem of overweight cops in Argentina is apparently, well, rather big.

While almost 58% of the Argentine population is considered overweight — blame their love of barbecue, steak sandwiches and expand=1]choripán sausage sandwiches — a staggering 80% of police officers are of "abnormal weight," thanks to junk food, stress and sedentary habits.

So, no Starsky & Hutch — or even Cagney & Lacey — chasing felons down alleys and leaping over cars, or you could soon be watching ER.

"It is important to note that the situation was worse 18 years ago," when 40% of policemen were not just overweight but obese," cardiologist Jorge Tartaglione says.

For the past two years, the Argentine government has operated a program of visits to police stations where police officers are given health checks and advice on losing weight, lowering cholesterol and stopping smoking (about 30% are smokers). For the obese, surgical options are available.

Another physician, Julio Montero, says there are causes that require more research, but certainly off-peak work hours contribute to eating junk food. Argentine police are nevertheless doing better than their peers in Mexico's Federal Police, where 100% of personnel were found earlier this year to be overweight.

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