WIESBADEN, Germany - The percentage of Military Health System beneficiaries who gave information showing they were obese in fiscal year 2011 was 22, well below the U.S. population average of 33.8.

Those numbers, from the fiscal year 2012 report to Congress on the Tricare system, still leave a lot of room for improvement though. The good news is that the military's medical system can help people get those numbers lower.

One of the many nutrition related services the military's health care system offers in Germany is help with weight control, said Linda Hall, a registered dietician at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Although people would have to travel to Landstuhl for the center's heart and diabetes nutrition classes, the center offers weight control classes in Wiesbaden in addition to Medical Nutrition Therapy for a variety of nutrition related medical conditions including but not limited to heart health, diabetes, and food allergies, Hall said.

Landstuhl offers nutrition services in Wiesbaden on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, Hall said, and video teleconferencing is also available. The teleconferencing is like Skype, but on a secure network, she said.

The classes cover the two basics of weight control - activity levels and food consumption, Hall said. The classes can also help people seeking to gain weight.

The classes cover the basics of weight control - activity levels, food consumption and food related behavior modification, Hall said. Those who need to gain weight would be seen individually and would need a physician's referral to a dietitian, however the same principles apply.

When it comes to activity, people should get between 60 and 90 minutes of exercise a day, Hall said, but it does not necessarily have to be in a gym. It can be any type of activity such as, walking, playing or dancing, she said.

In terms of food, it is important to remember that quality of food is often as important as quantity, Hall said.

After the class, people can schedule an appointment with a nutritionist to look more closely at weight issues, Hall said. Although people need a doctor's referral for appointments for other nutrition issues, it is not necessary when it comes to weight issues.

Before an appointment, Hall said people should write down their exercise activities and everything they eat and drink for at least a day, and ideally for a week. The activity and diet information helps the dietitian to work with the person and find target areas for improvement.
Many people come to appointments thinking the dietitian will simply give them a diet, Hall said, but that is not the way it works.

The dietitian may identify one or two ways to improve eating habits, and after the person has mastered those two points, the dietitian will work with the person to improve on additional points, Hall said.

It is important to be realistic, Hall said. No one is going to lose 50 pounds in a week, for example, but two might be possible.

The two biggest contributors to weight problems are not getting enough exercise and drinking too many calories, Hall said.

A 20-ounce bottle of apple juice is the equivalent to eating five apples, Hall said, and while it would be hard to eat five apples at a time, it is easy to drink a bottle of juice in one sitting.

Some coffee drinks that contain sweeteners and flavorings have as many as 600 to 900 calories, and there are a lot of calories in alcoholic beverages, she said.

Anyone interested in keeping track of exercise activity and calories can choose from a number of excellent computer programs, Hall said.

"Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker" by MyFitness Pal, "Calorie Counter: Diets and Activities" by Arawella and "Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker" by CalorieCount.com are three top-rated trackers that have computer, iPhone and iPad applications, Hall said.

Another web-based program that is popular with male Soldiers is "Lose it!" by FitNow, Inc., Hall said. Lose It! does not track as many nutrients as some of the top-rated programs, but it is very easy to use, she said.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' www.eatright.org and the federal government's www.myplate.gov provide excellent information, Hall said.

To ask about nutrition classes or make an appointment, call mil 486-LRMC (5762) or civ (06371) 86-LRMC (5762). When making an online appointment, it is important that people note they want to call Landstuhl for an appointment, and request for the appointment to take place in Wiesbaden.