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Association between body composition standards and eating disorder medical claims among active-duty service women.

Journal of Eating Disorders 2024 Februrary 20
INTRODUCTION: Eating disorders are a worldwide public health concern with the United States having a particularly high prevalence. Eating disorders are of particular concern to the Department of Defense and Military Health System (MHS) because body composition standards are in place for active-duty service members.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of active-duty service women (ADSW) ages 18 and older in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps during fiscal years (FY) 2018-2019. Utilizing claims data from the MHS Data Repository (MDR), we identified ADSW with a Body Mass Index (BMI) measure during the study period and compared their BMI to Service-specific requirements and diagnosis of an eating disorder.

RESULTS: We identified a total of 161,209 ADSW from the MDR in FYs 2018-2019 with a recorded BMI, of whom 61,711 (38.3%) had a BMI exceeding the maximum BMI Service-specific standards during the study period and 0.5% had an eating disorder diagnosis. Increased risk of an eating disorder was found in ADSW with an Underweight BMI. Further, we found that there was no association of disordered eating diagnoses among ADSW who were near the maximum height/weight standard set by their Service.

CONCLUSION: There appears to be no association between body composition standards of the Services and eating disorder diagnoses in ADSW. We were not able to investigate unhealthy habits around diet or exercise directly related to body composition standards.

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