• Conference Proceeding

Health and nutrition profile of women in the Navy


Hourani, L. L., & Trent, L. K. (1998). Health and nutrition profile of women in the Navy. In Assessing Readiness in Military Women: The Relationship of Body, Composition, Nutrition, and Health. Committee on Body, Composition, Nutrition, and Health of Military Women, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, pp. 217–218. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


This overview will draw from three large survey studies of active-duty Navy men and women conducted over the last 12 years. The first, a mailed survey of nutrition knowledge and practices, found that women had better diets and higher nutrition knowledge scores than did men. Knowledge scores were positively associated with healthful dietary choices. Caucasian women reported significantly better diets and higher knowledge scores than did non-Caucasians. While 9 percent of the women exceeded the Navy's percent body fat standard (cutpoint = 30% fat for women), 47 percent of the sample perceived themselves as being overweight, and 60 percent were attempting to lose weight. More non-Caucasians exceeded the body fat standard, yet there was no difference in the percentage of Causcasian and non-Caucasian women who felt that they were overweight. Among those trying to lose weight, Caucasians relied equally on calorie reduction and increased physical activity, whereas non-Caucasians were more likely to diet rather than exercise to lose weight. Feelings of helplessness with regard to eating behavior (e.g., "I have no willpower") were associated with poorer dietary choices. There were no significant differences between the within-standards and out-of-standards groups on nutrition knowledge, overeating, helplessness, or diet scores, though the small sample of overweight women (N = 23) might have precluded attaining statistical significance in analyses.