Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of obesity in the British Army

Background: The trend of escalating obesity has prompted some armed forces to employ comprehensive health surveys to report obesity trends and prevalence, the findings of which suggest that obesity is a growing concern in these specific populations. Aim: To provide an appraisal of obesity prevalence and risk to obesity-related diseases in the British Army in relation to age, gender, military rank and employment. Subjects and method: An observational cohort study (n = 50 635) consisting of 47 173 men and 3462 women was drawn from a study sample hosted on the Fitness Information Software System (FISS) (n = 54 854). Multiple logistic regression techniques were employed separately for men and women. Results: According to BMI, 56.7% of the study population were overweight and of those individuals 12% were obese. Whilst a higher percentage of males were obese (12.2% and 8.6%, respectively), when waist circumference data were added to the BMI data, the results indicate that females displayed a higher percentage of risk to obesity-related diseases than males (30.4% and 24%, respectively). Conclusions: Armed service personnel should be made aware of the implications of obesity in regards to health and occupation. Specific focus should be given to those older individuals employed in managerial positions undertaking low levels of occupational physical activity.