Maj. Aaron Crombie of the Military Nutrition Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, in Natick, Mass., and colleagues at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center staged an intervention within five dining facilities on Fort Bragg, N.C.
Following the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the researchers recommend increased availability of fresh fruit, a variety of vegetables and whole-grain foods, and reduced availability of foods with high dietary fat and sugar.
The recommendations include offering one main lean meat or vegetarian entree at lunch and dinner with no added fat, and the placing of color-coded "Go for Green" nutritional information cards at the point of service.
Five other dining facilities served as a control during the first half of the yearlong study. Researchers collected data using a combination of survey questionnaires and digital photography of the diners' plates before and after meals were consumed.
The study found, over time, minimal changes in food service practices and menus produced significant improvement in soldiers' nutritional intake, including decreases in fat.
The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.