Do lifestyle choices influence the development of overweight and obesity in the South African Air Force, Bloemfontein?
Objectives: A study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity at Air Force Base Bloemspruit in Bloemfontein, Free State, and the dietary and lifestyle factors and physical activity which may play a role in the development thereof.
Design: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study.
Setting: Five units situated at the Air Force Base Bloemspruit, Bloemfontein were included.
Subjects: The study included 166 active-duty military personnel (136 males and 30 females) aged 21–59 years. A convenience sample of volunteers participated in the study.
Outcome measures: The body mass index (BMI) of the participants was calculated using weight and height, and waist circumference was measured using standardised techniques. The dietary intake of participants was evaluated using a selfadministered food frequency questionnaire.
Results: A high prevalence of overweight (38.6%) and obesity (36.1%) was identified in the study population. No significant associations were detected between lifestyle factors or physical activity and BMI. The majority of participants (59.6%)
consumed three meals per day. Meal frequency did not differ between different BMI categories, and no associations were found between meal frequency and being overweight or obese. Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables was observed. Conclusion: A high prevalence of overweight and obesity was observed in this study, which calls for urgent intervention. No associations were, however, found between dietary and lifestyle factors and the presence of overweight and/or obesity. Further investigation is required to identify the causes of overweight and obesity and effective ways to address this health challenge.
Keywords: overweight, obesity, dietary intake, physical activity, military
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