Eight out of every 10 police officers in the United States are overweight and researchers say they are 25 times more likely to die as a result of weight-related health problems than from an encounter with a criminal, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to a CBS DFW report which highlighted the statistic, the Garland Police Department in Texas is now working on a plan to improve the fitness of police officers in that command in response to the findings.
"I think it's important for all of us to keep the weight down and stay in shape, especially this job. The stress that we incur at this job … this is a great way to relieve the stress and to keep the blood pressure down," Garland Assistant Chief Jeff Bryan told CBS.
Bryan explained that although he spends most of his time working behind a desk he tries to maintain his fitness by working out three times a week at the department's on-site gym.
"When you're in a life or death struggle, you've got to win that fight," said Bryan of the importance of keeping fit.
While he admits that there are some police officers who are overweight, Garland police spokesperson Joe Harn questioned the percentage of officers the FBI has found to have that struggle.
"Do we have some that are overweight? Sure we do. But not to that percentage," said Harn.
Nevertheless, he explained that his department is pursuing its current fitness push for a number of reasons.
"Somebody that did a full career in law enforcement their average age was 60 — that's when they died was at 60 years old. So what we have found out is if we're going to improve and overcome that stress, we've got to stay in shape and we've got to control our weight if we want to live longer," Harn said.