What Effects do Stressful Life Changes have on Nutrition-Related Health Outcomes among US Army Soldiers?

Research Paper Title

Stressful Life Changes and Their Relationship to Nutrition-Related Health Outcomes Among US Army Soldiers.

Background

Stressful life changes may tax people’s adaptive capacity.

The researchers sought to determine if and when experiences of stressful life changes were associated with increased odds of adverse nutrition-related health outcomes among US Army soldiers relative to those who did not experience the same stressful life change.

An additional aim was to determine which stressful life changes had the greatest association with these outcomes and if there were gender differences in the magnitude of the associations.

Methods

Stressful life changes studied included:

  • Changes in marital status;
  • Combat deployment or return from deployment;
  • Relocation;
  • Adding a child;
  • Change in rank;
  • Change in occupation; and
  • Development of a physical limitation to duty.

Using longitudinal data from the Stanford Military Data Repository, which represents all active-duty soldiers aged 17-62 between 2011 and 2014 (n = 827,126), they employed an event history analysis to examine associations between stressful life changes and a subsequent diagnosis of hyperlipidaemia, substantial weight gain, and weight-related separation from the Army.

Results

Marriage was associated with an increase in the odds of substantial weight gain 3 months later for both men and women.

Developing a physical duty limitation was associated with an increase in the odds of a hyperlipidemia diagnosis 2 months later for both men and women, as was substantial weight gain 2 months later.

Conclusions

Stressful life changes were also associated with increased odds of nutrition-related health outcomes, although the researchers found gender differences in the magnitude of the associations.

Findings could be used to mitigate the effects of stress on health by health professionals.

Reference

Jayne, J.M., Blake, C.E., Frongillo, E.A., Liese, A.D., Cai, B., Nelson, D.A., Kurina, L.M. & Funderburk, L. (2020) Stressful Life Changes and Their Relationship to Nutrition-Related Health Outcomes Among US Army Soldiers. The Journal of Primary Prevention. 41(2), pp.171-189. doi: 10.1007/s10935-020-00583-3.

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