Body composition assessment held at Warrior Care and Transition headquarters

Adaptive Winter Sports Lt. Col. Chad Duhe receives an ultrasound body composition analysis from Christine Hill, Health Educator, Ft Meade Army Wellness Center, during a Warrior Care and Transition health and wellness assessment held in advance of this spring’s Performance Triad 26-Week Health Challenge. (Photo Courtesy Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition)

By John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Care and Transition

Over a six month period beginning in the spring of 2017, the staff of the United States Army Medical Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Warrior Care and Transition will undertake the task of improving their overall health within three components— sleep, activity, and nutrition by participating in the Performance Triad 26-Week Health Challenge.

“As an organization whose enduring mission is to ensure that wounded, ill and injured Soldiers receive world class care, it’s only fitting that those who oversee this care partake of healthy practices,” says Lt. Col. Annie Cichocki, Action Officer, Clinical Liaison Division, Warrior Care and Transition.

Among the first activities in advance of the Health Challenge was a body composition assessment. More than two dozen WCT staff members took part in the assessment that is conducted by way of an ultrasound machine. Upon receiving their results, participants were then given guidance on how best to achieve and then maintain a proper weight and fat to muscle ratio.

Rather than merely tracking one’s weight by stepping onto a bathroom scale it’s important to be aware of your overall body composition. While weight may fluctuate, even over the course of a day, a person’s body composition reveals the relative proportions of fat to lean mass.

Cichocki, a registered dietician, says a body composition assessment is better than stepping onto a scale as weight loss alone does not equate to better health. “With rapid weight loss you can lose a lot of muscle,” says Cichocki. “A body composition assessment can give you a much better picture of what’s going on.”

Cichocki came up with the Health Challenge to help WCT personnel set healthier goals. “We are also aligning with the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States Army guidelines in regards to issues that impact the health of Department of Defense personnel,” says Cichocki.

Obesity is an epidemic affecting many people in the United States, including military beneficiaries.

“There are a number of things that one can do to achieve a proper weight,” says Cichocki. “Foremost among them is watching, not so much what you eat, but how much you eat.”

According to Cichocki being overweight carries with it a number of increased risk factors, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, or sleep apnea.

“It’s really crucial to maintain a healthy weight,” says Cichocki. “Knowing your body composition and maintaining a proper weight can help you not only physically but mentally, and it’s very important to the Army from the standpoint of force readiness and controlling health care cost.”

Cichocki also says that individuals should pay closer attention to their level of physical activity, recommending that people dedicate more time in doing what they enjoy in terms of being in motion, whether it’s biking, walking, running, dancing, or gardening. “The important thing is to simply do incrementally more, instead of finding yourself sitting in front of the television each night,” says Cichocki.