Weight Change Following US Military Service
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Background Although obesity is less prevalent among active-duty military personnel compared with similar persons not serving in the military, no such difference has been seen between veterans and nonveterans. Purpose To compare the trajectory of weight change between personnel on active duty and those who separate from the military, and to evaluate how these changes differ depending on demographic, service-related, and psychological characteristics. Methods We used data from the baseline 2001 and follow-up 2004 and 2007 Millennium Cohort Study n38,686. We estimated average annual and 6-year weight changes as well as multivariable adjusted odds ratios of clinically important weight gain 10. Analyses were conducted in 2010. Results Individuals gained a substantial amount of weight 7 8 pounds around the time of their separation from service. While the rate of annual weight gain among those leaving service returned to the rate of continuing service members, the additional weight gained after separation was not lost. Consequently, 6-year weight gain in separators was 4 to 5 pounds greater than in those who did not separate 12 13 pounds vs. 8 pounds. Subgroups that were at increased risk of weight gain following separation included active duty vs. ReserveNational Guard, those who were depressed, and deployers with combat exposures vs. nondeployers. Conclusions This study provides the first evidence for an increased rate of weight gain around the time of military separation that may explain previously reported higher rates of overweight and obesity in veterans. High-risk subgroups identified may require enhanced resources to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Statistics and Probability
- Military Forces and Organizations