Food choices and health during military service: increases in sugar- and fibre-containing foods and changes in anthropometric and clinical risk factors

Clarissa M L Bingham, Marjaana Lahti-Koski, Pilvikki Absetz, Pauli Puukka, Marja Kinnunen, Harri Pihlajamäki, Timo Sahi, Antti Uutela, Piia Jallinoja
2011 Public Health Nutrition  
Objective: To analyse changes in food choices, diet-related risk factors and their association during 6 months of military service. Design: Longitudinal cohort study in Finland, where all men are liable to military service and a clear majority of each age group completes service. Dietary intake data were collected by self-administered questionnaire before and at 6 months of service. Three dietary indices based on food frequencies were developed to characterize the diet: Sugar Index, Fibre Index
more » ... Index, Fibre Index and Fat Index. Thirteen dietrelated risk factors were measured at the beginning and at 6 months of service. Setting: Military environment, two geographically distinct garrisons. Subjects: Male conscripts aged 18-21 years (n 256) performing military service. Results: During 6 months of service, positive changes concerned more frequent use of fibre-rich foods (P 5 0?011), improved body composition (BMI, waist circumference, muscle mass, fat mass and percentage body fat, P # 0?003 for all), decreased systolic blood pressure and increased HDL cholesterol (P , 0?001 for both). Negative changes concerned more frequent use of sugar-rich foods and increased total cholesterol, TAG and blood glucose (P , 0?001 for all). The consumption of fibre-rich foods was inversely associated with anthropometric risk factors at baseline and with sugar-rich foods at both time points. Conclusions: Despite more frequent consumption of sweet foods, military service with a unified, nutritionally planned diet, a controlled environment and high physical load has a positive effect on conscripts' health risk factors. The negative changes in blood lipids and glucose may reflect more varied free-time eating.
doi:10.1017/s1368980011003351 pmid:22166515 fatcat:jb7nsf5pknc7fmcsdclzjuuqke