Predictors of milk consumption in a population of 17- to 35-year-old military personnel


Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to survey an entire population of Air Force recruits (N=32,144) regarding milk consumption and demographic and health-related factors that may predict milk consumption. Design: All subjects were required to fill out a 53-item health survey at the start of basic military training. Subjects/setting: All recruits who entered the US Air Force from August 1995 to August 1996 participated in this study (N= 32,144). Statistical analyses performed: Potential correlates of milk intake were analyzed using Spearman rank order correlations and multiple linear regression. Variables were removed if they did not make a meaningful contribution to variance in milk intake. Because of skewed distributions, several variables were dichotomized (eg, age: 17 to 24 vs 25 to 35 years). Results: In terms of milk consumption, 51.7% of the respondents reported intake of fewer than 1 serving per day; only 17.9% reported intake of 3 servings or more per day. Milk intake was positively associated with body weight and fruit/vegetable intake and negatively associated with age, education level, reported milk-related gastric distress, physical activity level, dieting frequency, and concern about weight. Gender (women reported lower intake) and ethnicity (minorities reported lower intake) were independently related to milk consumption. Of all respondents, 16.1% reported themselves to have milk-related gastric distress, but rates varied depending on age, gender, and ethnicity (ranging from 10.2% for younger non-Hispanic white men to 60.4% for older Asian men). Applications/conclusions: Despite the efforts of large, costly campaigns designed to increase milk consumption, self-reported milk consumption in young adults is extremely low. Given the importance of dairy products as a major source of calcium in the American diet, dietetics practitioners should assess milk consumption among young adults to ensure sufficient calcium intake to maximize peak bone mass in this group.

Publication Title

Journal of the American Dietetic Association