Eating Habits as a Predictor of Performance on the Army Combat Fitness Test Total Score for ROTC Cadets Original Research

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Anthony Acevedo
Zachary Zeigler
Bridget Melton


Army, HEI-2015, Military


Introduction: The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a newly developed combat readiness assessment test that may require nutritional interventions. The purpose of this cross-sectional study is to determine if diet quality can predict performance outcomes on the ACFT in ROTC cadets.

Methods: ROTC cadets (54 males, 17 females; aged 21.08 ± 3.8 years) reported to the laboratory to complete a comprehensive questionnaire (HEI-2015). The ability of the HEI-2015 to predict ACFT performance was determined with a linear regression model. Significance was set at p < 0.05.

Results: HEI-2015 total score was significantly and positively correlated to ACFT total score (r = .287, p = .015). Subcategories of the HEI-2015 were positively and significantly correlated with ACFT total scores, greens, and beans (r = .276, p = .020), total protein (r = .249, p = .037), seafood and plant protein (r = .341, p = .004), and fatty acid ratio (r = .273, p = .004). HEI-2015 total score significantly explained 8% (p = .015) of the variance on the ACFT total scores with a beta coefficient of 2.862.

Conclusion: The HEI-2015 total score is a predictor of success on the ACFT total score. HEI-2015 subcategories GB, TP, SPP, and FA are associated with the ACFT total score. This data shows that overall diet quality determines a soldier’s combat readiness. For every 1-point increase in the HEI-2015 total score, the ACFT total score is predicted to increase by three points.

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