Background: Sound nutrition knowledge and a balanced diet are essential for operational readiness and optimal health of military personnel. Few studies have examined nutrition knowledge in this population. Objective: To assess the level of general nutrition knowledge across military occupations (ie, officers [OFFRs], physical training instructors [PTIs], cooks [CKs], and soldiers [SOLs]) compared with a civilian, community (C) sample. Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants/setting: Convenience sample of Australian military (M) and C participants. Main outcome measures: General nutrition knowledge measured using the validated General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire (GNKQ). Knowledge scores and the influence of demographic characteristics (eg, age, sex, level of education, and living arrangement) within and between M and C groups were evaluated. Statistical analyses: Analysis of variance, general linear models, independent-samples median test, t tests, χ2 test, and Spearman's correlation. Results: A sample of 1,295 participants were recruited with 622 (48%) from C. The M sample (n=673) consisted of SOLs 62.1%, OFFRs 9.1%, PTIs 12.8%, and CKs 16.0%. Mean age was higher for C than M (35.5±14 y vs 29.7±9.2 y; P<0.001). However, SOLs were younger and OFFRs older than other groups (P<0.001). The M sample had more men (91.1% vs 39.4%; P<0.001). The OFFRs, PTIs, and C members had similar total GNKQ scores (62.8%, 61.9%, and 64.7%, respectively) with these groups higher (P<0.001) than CKs and SOLs (56.4% and 50.6%, respectively). Across all participants, there was a positive relationship between total GNKQ score and age, female sex, and tertiary education (all P values <0.001). Significant differences identified in total GNKQ score between groups remained after adjusting for demographic factors. Young men (M or C) without tertiary education had the lowest GNKQ scores. Conclusions: Because low general nutrition knowledge may be detrimental to dietary intake, health, and operational readiness in military personnel, nutrition education programs particularly targeted at SOLs and CKs seem warranted.
- Nutrition knowledge
- Military personnel