Nutrition consumption of female combat recruits in army basic training.

Yael Etzion-Daniel, Naama Constantini, Aharon S. Finestone, Danit R. Shahar, Eran Israeli, Ran Yanovich, Daniel S. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: The Karakal is an existing light infantry unit consisting of both female and male fighters (predominantly female). This was the first Israel Defense Forces study to assess and to evaluate the dietary intake among male and female recruit fighters in comparison to nonfighters from preinduction through Army Basic Training (ABT). METHODS: One company of Karakal recruits plus a control group of female medics were assessed for dietary intake at three time points: day of recruitment, 2 months into ABT, and at the end of 4 months ABT, using validated Food Frequency Questionnaires. Means of dietary intake were presented and compared with the Military Dietary Reference Intakes (MDRI). RESULTS: This study included 92 Karakal females (KF), 33 Karakal males (KM), and 48 control females (CF) aged 18-19 yr. Mean energy and calcium intakes at preinduction for KF were 90% and 71% of MDRI, respectively. These values were significantly lower than CF values (108% and 88%). Both groups of females consumed 57% of vitamin D. The KM intakes were similarly deficient. At preinduction, deficiencies were greater among recruits who first volunteered for 1 yr of national service (NS). During ABT, average dietary intakes decreased in all groups. Values for KF and CF were as follows: energy intake = 80% and 71%, respectively; Ca = 61% and 49%, respectively; Zn = 71% and 57%, respectively; and vitamin D = 34% and 24%, respectively. The diet of all groups met the MDRI requirements for protein, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. CONCLUSIONS: Karakal fighters' food consumption during ABT did not meet most MDRI nutrient requirements. Females entering the army directly from a home environment began with a nutritional status that met MDRI requirements, unlike those inducted after 1 yr of NS away from home. Deficiencies need further investigation as they may have a negative impact on soldiers' health and physical performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S677-684
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number11 Suppl
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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