Operation Nutrition was executed in June 2016. A group of 22 men and women from the 49th Military Police Brigade of the California National Guard participated in our nutrition intervention. There is currently no nutrition education program in place for the California National Guard; thus, the overall goal of this project was to a pilot nutrition education program toward improving nutritional status and reducing the risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome in a pre-select group of at-risk California National Guard Members. Criteria for a Metabolic Syndrome diagnosis include having a combination of any 3 of the following symptoms: elevated measures of triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, and waist circumference, and reduced HDL cholesterol. At baseline, the Nutrition Team collected data on the soldiers, including body composition using a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry machine, height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood labs, and 3-day diet recall data. Unfortunately, baseline data revealed that two of the 22 participants already fit the diagnostic criteria for Metabolic Syndrome. As part of the pilot intervention, a basic nutrition seminar was delivered to provide the necessary skills to promote increased health and wellness through the adoption of long-lasting lifestyle changes. This newly acquired nutrition knowledge was reinforced through hands on experience in the kitchen that included lessons on cooking well-balanced and nutritionally sound meals. Our intention with this was to implement Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing to provide soldiers with the means—both intangible as well as material—to improve their eating habits and to demonstrate the adoption of such practices before the end of Operation Nutrition. Due to difficulties in maintaining correspondence and communication with the majority of participants, the project did not go as originally planned. Though 22 participants began the project, only two participants returned for follow-up. Feedback received from the participants indicated the program had a positive effect on overall nutrition knowledge despite the lack of follow-up data.
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