CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 1, 2017) - The Department of Defense spends billions of dollars in healthcare and readiness due to unhealthy lifestyle practices by Soldiers and other DOD employees, according to Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Healthy Army Communities program.

For some Soldiers and Family Members, many of their unhealthy practices can take shape as they wander shopping aisles looking for food items.

HAC says individual workouts alone do not compensate for the long-term impact of unhealthy food choices.

To assist Army families in making healthier food choices, Noelle Austin-Jones, health technician with Camp Zama's Army Wellness Center, said she advises community members to start shopping at the perimeter of the commissary.

"This is where you are likely to find more whole foods, like fresh produce and proteins, and less processed foods," said Austin-Jones.

Perimeter foods were showcased during the Healthy Lifestyles event held May 26 - 28 at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Commissary.

Army commissaries have been making more efforts to offer healthier food options and educate consumers by hosting such events, said Velma Siler, SFHA Commissary officer.

The Healthy Lifestyles event actually started after previous First Lady Michelle Obama originally held one, said Siler. The Defense Commissary Agency picked up on the idea, hosting one annually for all the commissaries in the world, she continued.

During the SFHA event, Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members learned how to make healthy smoothies, sampled new, fresh food options, and even had the chance to participate in commissary held yoga sessions.

Austin-Jones, who also participated in the event as a healthy-foods representative, saw the commissary's healthy lifestyle efforts in action as she browsed the commissary aisles.

"The commissary has made it more convenient to choose healthier options by labeling foods that contain higher fiber, lower sodium, or are a good source of nutrients to save the consumer time while shopping and assist in making healthier choices," she said.

Shaun Bullman, SFHA Commissary store manager, said he hopes customers left more educated and motivated to make smarter food choices.

"Overall... our goal ... is to educate the consumer, our patrons, on new items other than fried foods ..." said Bullman.

"We want to get them into a healthy lifestyle where they are eating more vegetables, more organics ... so that they will be able to move forward in their careers and maintain their health throughout their life."