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To examine relationships between changes in body weight, body composition, and fitness level in male students of the general population and those in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program during the freshman year of college.
Thirty-seven (18.4 ± 0.7 yr) healthy, nonsmoking, first-semesterresident male students were divided into 3 groups: low active (LA), high active (HA), and ROTC. Baseline (beginning of freshman year) and 6-month follow-up measurements included anthropometry, body composition (by DXA), 3-day food records, and physical activity (PA) assessment.
Weight and body-mass index did not change significantly within or among groups. HA participants compared with LA and ROTC had a significant decrease in body fat (–1.6% ± 2.5% vs. 1.9% ± 1.2% and 0.8% ± 2.2%, respectively). They also had a significant increase in lean mass compared with LA and ROTC (1.8 ± 1.1 kg vs. –0.2 ± 2.0 kg and 0.2 ± 1.7 kg, respectively). All p values were <.05. ROTC and LA participants were similar in all measures of body composition and PA and had significantly lower PA levels than the HA group. No significant relationships were observed between dietary variables and body-composition changes.
These results suggest that higher PA was the most powerful determinant in achieving favorable body-composition outcomes. In addition, current physical training conducted by ROTC at Florida State University (which seems to be a practice nationwide) might not be sufficient to offset gains in body fat.
Crombie is with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Military Nutrition Division, Natick, MA. Liu is with the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Akron, Akron, OH. Ormsbee and Ilich are with the Dept. of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.