OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to investigate secular trends in body mass index among the young military population. This involved a comparison of changes in the body mass index (BMI) and height among 19-year-old males from 11 successive birth cohorts.
DESIGN: Samples of a total of 37,934 conscripts between 2000 and 2010 were examined using the BMI defined as weight (kg)/ height (m2).
SETTING: The analysis included each medical record for all recruits reporting for examination between 2000 and 2010 to the Military Headquarters in south-east of Poland. Underweight, overweight and obesity were estimated according to World Health Organization criteria. Means of the BMI, body mass and height were calculated for the following three subgroups: (1) rural resident; (2) urban resident (towns with population of 10,000+); and, (3) urban resident (cities with populations of 100,000+).
RESULTS: Secular trends in body mass index have changed significantly between 2000 and 2010. A statistically significant increase in both the prevalence of overweight (10.5% to 15.6%) and obesity (2.5% to 3.8%) were observed. However, the prevalence of underweight also increased from 8.3% to 10.2%.
CONCLUSIONS: Secular trends in BMI have been unfavourable for the military population over the last 10 years studied and, therefore, the need for promotion of health among recruits is very important.