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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Feb 15;169(4):415-27. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn366. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Disordered eating and weight changes after deployment: longitudinal assessment of a large US military cohort.

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Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research, Naval Health Research Center, 140 Sylvester Road, San Diego, CA 92106, USA.


The effect of military deployments to combat environments on disordered eating and weight changes is unknown. Using longitudinal data from Millennium Cohort Study participants who completed baseline (2001-2003) and follow-up (2004-2006) questionnaires (n=48,378), the authors investigated new-onset disordered eating and weight changes in a large military cohort. Multivariable logistic regression was used to compare these outcomes among those who deployed and reported combat exposures, those who deployed but did not report combat exposures, and those who did not deploy in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Deployment was not significantly associated with new-onset disordered eating in women or men, after adjustment for baseline demographic, military, and behavioral characteristics. However, in subgroup comparison analyses of deployers, deployed women reporting combat exposures were 1.78 times more likely to report new-onset disordered eating (95% confidence interval: 1.02, 3.11) and 2.35 times more likely to lose 10% or more of their body weight compared with women who deployed but did not report combat exposures (95% confidence interval: 1.17, 4.70). Despite no significant overall association between deployment and disordered eating and weight changes, deployed women reporting combat exposures represent a subgroup at higher risk for developing eating problems and weight loss.

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