Risk Factors of Obesity in Veterans of Recent Conflicts: Need for Diabetes Prevention
AbstractPurpose of ReviewTo identify factors associated with obesity in veterans of the recent, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) war conflicts.Recent FindingsOver 44% OEF/OIF/OND veterans are obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2), which exceeds the national obesity prevalence rate of 39% in people younger than 45. Obesity increases morbidity, risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D), and mortality as well as decreases quality of life. A scoping review method was used to identify factors associated with obesity in young veterans. Military exposures, such as multiple deployments and exposure to combat, contribute to challenges in re-integration to civilian life in all veterans. Factors that contribute to increased risk for obesity include changes in eating patterns/eating disorders, changes in physical activity, physical disability, and psychological comorbidity. These conditions can contribute to a rapid weight gain trajectory, changes in metabolism, and obesity.SummaryYoung veterans face considerable challenges related to obesity risk. Further research is needed to better understand young veterans' experiences and health needs in order to adapt or expand existing programs and improve access, engagement, and metabolic outcomes in this vulnerable population.