Nutrition and health attitudes in a male Navy population and their relationships to selected physical readiness measures

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study examined the relationship between nutrition and health attitudes in 1,887 Navy men stationed aboard ships and shore commands and the relationship of these attitudes to physical readiness measures: 1.5 mile run, sit-ups, pushups, and percent body fat. Five attitudinal factors were developed from a self-report lifestyle questionnaire through factor analysis: General nutrition orientation, high fat food preference, positive exercise attitude, willingness to seek help attitude, and eating locus of control. Results of the self report of habitual eating patterns suggest that the typical Navy man skips breakfast, has a relatively high saturated fat intake and does not meet recommended intake levels of complex carbohydrates. Furthermore, results indicate that Navy men with an external locus of control have a higher percent body fat while younger, leaner Navy men scored higher on their preference for high fat foods. Implications of these results suggest the necessity for a two pronged approach to nutrition intervention programs in Navy populations. The first approach should be directed towards treatment in rehabilitation of individuals who scored high on the external locus of control attitude. These men had higher percent body fat which is unacceptable to the Navy's Physical Readiness Program standards. The second approach should be directed to younger, leaner individuals in the study who scored high in the high fat food preference category. A preventive nutrition education approach in line with the Surgeon General's recommendations should be incorporated into the Navy's weight control and nutrition education programs.