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Evaluation of General Nutrition Knowledge in Australian Military Personnel

  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ MND=Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics (Australia).
    ,
    Author Footnotes
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Charina J. Kullen
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Charina J. Kullen, MND, APD, Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, 75 East St, Lidcombe, NSW 2141, Australia.
    Footnotes
    ∗ MND=Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics (Australia).
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ MND=Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics (Australia).
    ,
    Author Footnotes
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Laura Iredale
    Footnotes
    ∗ MND=Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics (Australia).
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Search for articles by this author
  • Tania Prvan
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Helen T. O’Connor
    Footnotes
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ MND=Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics (Australia).
    ‡ APD=Australian certification for an accredited practicing dietitian.
Published:September 15, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.08.014

      Abstract

      Background

      Sound nutrition knowledge and a balanced diet are essential for operational readiness and optimal health of military personnel. Few studies have examined nutrition knowledge in this population.

      Objective

      To assess the level of general nutrition knowledge across military occupations (ie, officers [OFFRs], physical training instructors [PTIs], cooks [CKs], and soldiers [SOLs]) compared with a civilian, community (C) sample.

      Design

      Cross-sectional study.

      Participants/setting

      Convenience sample of Australian military (M) and C participants.

      Main outcome measures

      General nutrition knowledge measured using the validated General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire (GNKQ). Knowledge scores and the influence of demographic characteristics (eg, age, sex, level of education, and living arrangement) within and between M and C groups were evaluated.

      Statistical analyses

      Analysis of variance, general linear models, independent-samples median test, t tests, χ2 test, and Spearman's correlation.

      Results

      A sample of 1,295 participants were recruited with 622 (48%) from C. The M sample (n=673) consisted of SOLs 62.1%, OFFRs 9.1%, PTIs 12.8%, and CKs 16.0%. Mean age was higher for C than M (35.5±14 y vs 29.7±9.2 y; P<0.001). However, SOLs were younger and OFFRs older than other groups (P<0.001). The M sample had more men (91.1% vs 39.4%; P<0.001). The OFFRs, PTIs, and C members had similar total GNKQ scores (62.8%, 61.9%, and 64.7%, respectively) with these groups higher (P<0.001) than CKs and SOLs (56.4% and 50.6%, respectively). Across all participants, there was a positive relationship between total GNKQ score and age, female sex, and tertiary education (all P values <0.001). Significant differences identified in total GNKQ score between groups remained after adjusting for demographic factors. Young men (M or C) without tertiary education had the lowest GNKQ scores.

      Conclusions

      Because low general nutrition knowledge may be detrimental to dietary intake, health, and operational readiness in military personnel, nutrition education programs particularly targeted at SOLs and CKs seem warranted.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      C. J. Kullen is a dietitian with the Australian Regular Army and a PhD candidate with the Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

      Biography

      L. Iredale is a dietitian, Medibank Health Solutions, New South Wales, Australia; at the time of the study, she was a student with the Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

      Biography

      T. Prvan is a senior lecturer in statistics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia.

      Biography

      H. T. O’Connor is a senior lecturer, Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.