Nutrition is Out of Our Control: Soldiers Perceptions of their Local Food Environment
Journal Article - Open Access,01 Mar 2014,31 May 2014
U.S. Army Public Health Center Aberdeen Proving Ground United States
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Objective To explore the perceptions of soldiers participating in a US Army Office of The Surgeon Generals worksite health promotion programme WHPP on the local food environment within their campus-style workplace. Design Focus groups were conducted to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of the WHPP implementation. Further exploration of focus group data through thematic analysis focused on perceived contributions of the military campus-style food environment to soldiers nutrition behaviours. Setting Three US Army installations located in the continental USA. Participants Active duty soldiers n 366 participating in one of the fifty-eight focus groups. Results Soldiers shared a common belief of self-discipline and personal responsibility as the foothold to nutrition behaviour change. Soldiers described aspects of the military campus-style food environment as factors impeding achievement of optimal nutrition. Collectively, soldiers perceived the proximity and density of fast-food restaurants, lack of healthy alternatives on the installation and the cost of healthy food as inhibitors to choosing healthy foods. Overwhelmingly, soldiers also perceived time constraints as a factor contributing to unhealthy food choices. Conclusions Although nutrition behaviour is individually driven, soldiers perceived the military campus-style food environment inhibits healthy decision making. Nutrition programming in military WHPP must integrate food environment changes to improve soldiers nutrition behaviour outcomes. Applicable to the military, food choice behaviour studies suggest environmental changes must be appealing to young adults. Considerations for environmental changes should include an increased portion size for healthy options, broadened use of soldiers daily food allowances on local produce and increased availability of grab-and-go options.
- Food, Food Service and Nutrition
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations