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Nutritional knowledge in British Army recruits during basic training


Background Appropriate nutritional intake is essential to optimise both general health and performance in military recruits. General nutritional knowledge is a significant and modifiable determinant of dietary behaviour; however, the level of nutritional knowledge in British Army recruits undertaking basic training is poorly understood.

Methods The Nutritional Knowledge Questionnaire for Athletes was completed by 29 male (age: 22.3±3.8 years) and 26 female (age: 22.0±3.0 years) standard-entry recruits at the end of basic training, and 15 male (age: 20.7±3.2 years) infantry recruits both at the start and end of basic training for the British Army. Between-group and within-group differences in total and subcomponent (ie, carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, general nutrition, fluid intake, and sporting performance) scores were analysed.

Results Standard-entry male recruits had more correct answers (52%) than standard-entry female recruits (38%) and male infantry recruits (40%) at the end of training. Infantry recruits had similar levels of nutritional knowledge at the start (39% correct) and end (40% correct) of training. Nutritional knowledge related to protein (range: 53%–75% correct answers) and vitamins and minerals (range: 42%–63% correct answers) were the two highest scoring subcomponents within each group.

Conclusion British Army recruits, in particular standard-entry female and infantry recruits, have poor nutritional knowledge, which did not improve throughout basic training. Better nutritional intervention, especially surrounding carbohydrate and fluid education, is required during British Army basic training to optimise career-long dietary behaviour.

  • Physiology

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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