Facing surprisingly high obesity rates, the Czech military is forced to crack down on high-fat diets. Some, however, have pointed out that certain plump generals set a bad example for the troops on the ground.
The Czech Republic's top military brass is cracking down…on calories. After a recent report found that half of the 22,000 soldiers in the Czech army are overweight, orders have come down to halt the helpings of pork roast, dumplings and beer.
The military is also considering using appetite suppressants for soldiers who struggle with alimentary discipline. Czech Defense Ministry Chief of Staff Vlastimil Picek has ordered more fitness checks at all ranks, which comes after his predecessor Jirí Sedivy's pointed out that officers and the (particularly overweight) generals should be on the front line in the battle of the bulge.
"They ought to set the example for their subordinates," Sedivy said.
Experts attribute part of the problem to the changeover from a conscription to professional army, which saw the average age of soldiers rise significantly to 37, which inevitably means more struggling with weight problems.
The Ministry of Defense has requested that recruitment campaigns target younger men who stand a higher chance of having washboard abs.
Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra, who does not himself match the sought-after profile, came to the soldiers‘ defense, saying: "I've never seen anything other than slim, muscular soldiers at the barracks. Politicians, and journalists too, should take a good long look at themselves before casting aspersions."
One newspaper commentator harked back to the good old days when Czechs served in the Austro-Hungarian army. He recommended having the soldiers drilled mercilessly by somebody along the lines of 2nd Lieutenant Dub ("I'm nasty. I make everyone cry.") in Jaroslav Hašek's satirical novel Good Soldier Svejk.
That members of the Czech army would - like Svejk - also be subjected to enemas is, thus far at least, only a rumor.
Read the full story in German by Hans-Jörg Schmidt
Photo - Jametiks