Only 40 of the 40,000 cops in the city have utilised the specialised obesity and cardiac unit at the Nagpada police facility since it opened in March, though over 5,000 have been admitted for various related ailments
Given the potbellies that encircle the bodies of Mumbai's policemen, one would think they would avail of the opportunity to cut down some flab, specially if it came knocking on their door. Sadly, that's not the case at Dr Girish Gadkari's Obesity and Cardiac Lifestyle Care Unit at the Nagpada Police facility, which opened in March this year.
The city doctor and obesity consultant rues the fact that older policemen are not availing the service. Instead, it is their wives and children who consult him. "Even those who actually bother to consult me, later become irregular with their visits and do not follow my advice to the letter," he says.
The numbers corroborate his tale. Out of a 40,000-strong Mumbai police force, only 40 cops have visited the centre, of which 16 were women. Out of these, only six (three policemen and their wives) have continued to follow up on their treatment and the doctor's recommendations.
This, despite the fact that many cops who belong to the 40-plus age bracket have high BMI levels and could even fall under class II obesity. "Young policemen and officers are more cautious about their health and hence have a well-maintained Body Mass Index, but policemen above the age of 40 are more prone to health ailments that could be life threatening if not tackled at the right time," says the 68 year-old doctor, who is providing his services on an honorary basis.
Sunday MiD DAY is in possession of documents that show that as on May 31, 2011, approximately 5,054 policemen, and 7,165 of their families (spouses, children and parents) attached to the State Police were admitted in hospitals for various health ailments. The major ailments which were treated include 2,235 cases of Cardiac emergency, 977 cases of cancer, 1,217 cases of genito urinary emergencies, 1,087 cases of acute abdominal pain and 892 cases of pulmonary emergency.
Gadkari is not surprised. "People don't realise that by not working out regularly and by consuming too many empty calories, they are putting themselves at risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke and the like."
Some are taking action, though. "I was over 105 kg and had various health issues including joint pain and spondylitis. But after coming to the centre and following the instructions given by Dr Gadkari, I have managed to reduce over 11 kg, I'm feeling comfortable and have become active," says Naik Dattatray Shinde (42), attached to the Police HQ.
Another police constable, Balkrishna Deshmukh, attached to the Dog Squad of Mumbai, weighed 100.5 kg nine months ago, and is now at 87 kg. "I was put into the red zone during the physical fitness examination by the department, where my superiors instructed me to reduce my weight. Under Dr Gadkari's treatment, I lost 6 kg in the first month of treatment itself, with just lifestyle modifications and no medicines," he smiles.
Those are heartening words for Gadkari, because the unit was set up after a struggle for permissions for three years, after late former ATS chief Hemant Karkare was keen to set it up in 2008.
After his demise, former Joint Commissioner (Admin) B More pursued the case.
It's in their hands
Meanwhile, police spokesperson DCP Nissar Tamboli is not impressed by the frugal numbers. "It is an unwritten rule for all policemen to remain fit. We cannot force unfit policemen to visit the centre, but they must realise the need for it on their own."
Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) S P Yadav too believes that a cop's health is in his hands.
"Policemen with high BMIs who say they do not have time to exercise and eat right are talking rubbish. We regularly maintain data of policemen fitness and ensure that they take remedial measures at the earliest."