Online Program

Association of Social Characteristics and Obesity in Military Dependent Children

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Jeannette Kennedy, PhD, RD, LDN, Combat Feeding Directorate, US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center, Natick, MA
Angela W. Prehn, PhD, School of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN
Gudeta Fufaa, PhD, School of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN
A complex set of factors interact to influence obesity risk among U.S. children. Many researchers have analyzed childhood obesity prevalence and found associations with social factors at multiple levels among U.S. civilian populations. However, limited research involved military families who experience a unique set of social factors inherent to military life. 

The purpose of this study was to identify the current prevalence of childhood obesity among active duty military families and its association with social factors at an individual and broader contextual level. 

Using the ecological systems theory, research questions explored whether childhood obesity outcomes (risk and severity) demonstrated associations with social characteristics (parental military rank and branch of service) in U.S. military families, controlling for age and gender. The study used a cross-sectional design to analyze secondary data extracted from electronic health records contained in the Military Health System Data Repository for a cohort of approximately 170,000 children. 

The prevalence of obesity among the study population was 10.4%.  Approximately 22% of these obese children met criteria for classification as severely obese.  Results of multiple logistic and linear regression analyses showed that social characteristics at the individual family and broader community levels acted as predictors of childhood obesity in active duty families. 

Although active duty military families are susceptible to childhood obesity, the role of individual social factors on childhood obesity risk and severity of obesity in this population requires further study.  Implications for social change include an increased awareness of obesity risk factors in children living in military families and application of study findings toward targeted prevention efforts.

Learning Areas:


Learning Objectives:
Describe obesity prevalence among military dependent children with active duty parents Identify that obesity prevalence among children of active duty service members varies by parental military rank and branch of service

Keyword(s): Obesity, Children and Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of this PhD in Public Health dissertation research. My scientific interests include the assessment of food and nutrition patterns among military populations and the impact on policy development.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.