Is a a High BMI associated with Heat-Related Illnesses among Conscripts undergoing Basic Training in Thailand?

Research Paper Title

Personal risk factors associated with heat-related illness among new conscripts undergoing basic training in Thailand.

Background

Cases of exertional heat stroke have been reported every year during basic training for Royal Thai Army (RTA) conscripts.

Prevention is an important strategy to reduce the incidence of heat-related illnesses.

The researchers conducted a study to identify potential indicators for the prevention and monitoring of heat-related illnesses among military conscripts undergoing basic training in Thailand.

Methods

All newly inducted RTA conscripts in 5 basic training units in 5 regions in Thailand were invited to participate in a prospective cohort study from 01 May to 09 July 2013.

The incidence rate of heat-related illnesses and the incidence rate ratio (IRR) based on a Poisson regression model were used to identify the independent factors associated with heat-related illnesses, daily tympanic (body) temperatures higher than 37.5°C, >3% decreases in body weight in one day, and the production of dark brown urine.

Eight hundred and nine men aged 21.4 (±1.13) years were enrolled in this study.

Results

The prevalence of a body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2 was 5.5%.

During the study period, 53 subjects (6.6%) representing 3.41/100 person-months (95% confidence interval (CI), 2.55-4.23) developed heat-related illnesses (excluding heat rash), and no subjects experienced heat stroke.

The incidence rates of a daily tympanic temperature >37.5°C at least once, body weight loss of >3% per day, and the production of dark brown urine at least once were 8.27/100 person-months (95% CI, 7.69-8.93), 47.91/100 person-months (95% CI, 44.22-51.58), and 682.11/100 person-months (95% CI, 635.49-728.52), respectively.

The sole identified independent factor related to the incidence of heat-related illnesses was a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 (adjusted IRR = 2.66, 95% CI, 1.01-7.03).

Conclusion

In conclusion, a high BMI was associated with heat-related illnesses among conscripts undergoing basic training in Thailand. Daily monitoring of heat-related illnesses, body temperature, body weight and urine color in each new conscript during basic military training was feasible.

Reference

Nutong, R., Mungthin, M., Hatthachote, P., Ukritchon, S., Imjaijit, W., Tengtrakulcharoen, P., Panichkul, S., Putwatana, P., Prapaipanich, W. & Rangsin, R. (2018) Personal risk factors associated with heat-related illness among new conscripts undergoing basic training in Thailand. PLoS One. 13(9):e0203428. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203428. eCollection 2018.

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