The correlates and treatment of obesity in military populations: a systematic review

Objective: The emergence of obesity as a distinct disease could have far reaching consequences for an organisation where optimum health and physical fitness are required for personnel to perform their occupational roles effectively. The objectives of this paper are to systematically review the literature concerning correlates and treatment of obesity in military populations. Methods: Through computerised searches of English language studies, 17 papers were identified (treatment (13), correlates (4)). Results: Successful treatment interventions incorporated exercise, healthy eating information, behavioural modification, self-monitoring, relapse prevention, and structured follow-up and were supported by trained personnel. Efficacy due to physical activity was underreported. Reduction in body fat rather than body weight was the most significant outcome. The major significant correlates of obesity were being enlisted personnel, male, ≧35 years of age, African-American/Hispanic ethnicity, and married (with spouse present). Conclusion: This systematic review highlights the deficit in knowledge concerning treatment and the lack of engagement in relation to the specific correlates of obesity in military populations.