Background

Poor diet quality may contribute to increased military overweight rates and associated comorbidities. Go For Green® version 2.0 (G4G 2.0) is a project to improve soldiers’ food environment to optimize performance, readiness, and health. Objective - to determine if soldiers’ diet quality at baseline improved after implementation of G4G 2.0 at a Colorado military dining facility (DFAC).

Methods

Soldiers recruited at baseline (n=89) and post G4G 2.0 implementation (n=45) were asked to consume three meals in the DFAC over a 2-day period per iteration. Soldiers consuming only one meal were excluded. Soldiers’ before/after dining trays were captured using digital photography. Foods consumed, estimated by two trained dietitians, were analyzed for nutrient content (FNDDS 2015-2016). Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015; 100 points maximum score), diet quality measure reflecting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, was calculated for soldiers consuming at least 2 different meals. Data analysis used SAS® version 9.4 software.

Results

At baseline, HEI-2015 total score was 62.9 ± 9.0 pts (n=75). Lowest component score was whole grain (0.45 ± 1.5 pts); total protein was 94.0% of maximum score, and total fruits, vegetables and dairy were 69.6%, 77.7%, and 63.3% of target, respectively. After G4G 2.0 implementation, mean HEI-2015 total score was 71.2 ± 10.9 pts (n=40, p <0.001). Whole grain consumption increased (3.9 ± 2.9, p<0.001), protein was 97.5% of maximum score, and total fruits, vegetables and dairy were 68.1%, 79.1%, and 72.0% of target, respectively.

Conclusions

Soldiers tasked with defending our nation should be in optimal nutritional status. Low baseline diet quality scores supported need for a DFAC nutrition intervention aimed to improve food offerings and soldier nutrient intake. These results suggest that G4G intervention can help to increase diet quality in military dining facilities.Disclosure: Views expressed do not reflect Dept. of Army/Defense or US Government official policy.