Comparison of weight status among two cohorts of US Air Force recruits

Walker S.C. Poston, Christopher Keith Haddock, Alan L. Peterson, Mark W. Vander Weg, Robert C. Klesges, Megan M. Pinkston, Margaret DeBon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Backgound. Overweight and obesity are increasing rapidly in the US and the Department of Defense (DoD). We examined whether weight trends evidenced in the general population and DoD are occurring among individuals entering US Air Force (USAF) Basic Military Training (BMT). Methods. Individuals entering the USAF in 1996 (AF1996; N = 29,036) and 2000 (AF2000; N = 31,080), ages 17-29 years were surveyed. The two recruit cohorts were compared to age-matched individuals from the 1996 (N = 22,153) and 2000 (N = 31,861) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey (BRFSS). Results. Crude rates for all age groups and age- and gender-standardized prevalence rates reflected significant increases in overweight/obesity among recruits. The direct standardized prevalence of overweight/obesity increased nearly 24%, from 14.8% in AF1996 to 18.3% in AF2000. The increase in overweight/obesity was particularly large among male recruits ages 25-29 (i.e., from 36.4% to 44.5%) between 1996 and 2000. Conclusions. USAF cohorts were less likely to be overweight than corresponding BRFSS samples. There were 19.1 and 20.2 percentage point differences between overall crude rates of overweight/obesity between AF1996 and BRFSS 1996 and AF2000 and BRFSS 2000, respectively. Nevertheless, overall rates of overweight and obesity are increasing among young recruits in the USAF at a fairly marked rate (approximately one percentage point per year).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-609
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Department of Defense
  • US Air Force
  • Weight status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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