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Appetite. 2017 Nov 1;118:161-167. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.009. Epub 2017 Aug 9.

Military experience can influence Women's eating habits.

Author information

1
Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Road (MPD-152), Menlo Park, CA 94205, USA; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94304, USA. Electronic address: jessica.breland@va.gov.
2
San Francisco VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.
3
Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Road (MPD-152), Menlo Park, CA 94205, USA.
4
San Francisco VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA; University of California, San Francisco, 500 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Disordered eating, ranging from occasional binge eating or restriction to behaviors associated with eating disorder diagnoses, is common among military personnel and veterans. However, there is little information on how military service affects eating habits.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe possible pathways between military service and disordered eating among women veterans, a high risk group.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Twenty women veterans who reported changing eating habits in response to stress participated in audio-recorded focus groups or dyadic interviews between April 2013 and October 2014. We used thematic analysis of transcripts to identify and understand women's self-reported eating habits before, during, and after military service.

RESULTS:

Participants reported entering the military with varied eating habits, but little disordered eating. Participants described several ways military environments affected eating habits, for example, by promoting fast, irregular, binge-like eating and disrupting the reward value of food. Participants believed military-related stressors, which were often related to gender, also affected eating habits. Such stressors included military sexual trauma and the need to meet military weight requirements in general and after giving birth. Participants also reported that poor eating habits continued after military service, often because they remained under stress.

CONCLUSIONS:

For some women, military service can result in socialization to poor eating habits, which when combined with exposure to stressors can lead to disordered eating. Additional research is needed, including work to understand possible benefits associated with providing support in relation to military weight requirements and the transition out of military service. Given the unique experiences of women in the military, future work could also focus on health services surrounding pregnancy-related weight change and the stress associated with being a woman in predominantly male military environments.

KEYWORDS:

Disordered eating; Military; Veteran; Women

PMID:
28802575
PMCID:
PMC6192672
DOI:
10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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