The Committee on Military Nutrition Research suggests a number of areas for future research within the military related to nutrition for soldiers working in hot environments. The CMNR believes that the military services, through their pool of volunteer personnel, offer an excellent and often unique opportunity to generate research data and statistics on the nutrition, health, and well-being of service personnel. These findings can be directly applied to improve both the health of military personnel and that of the general U.S. population.
The observed decreases in food intake in hot environments and the previous lack of research emphasis on this subject urge the investigation of factors that affect food intake in a hot ambient environment. Such factors include but are not limited to the following:
environmental conditions in the dining situation such as meal setting, menu item variability, food item temperature, social setting, and meal timing and frequency;
ethnic and gender differences in food preferences;
the relationship of food preferences to climate, with a focus on carefully controlled studies of the same individuals in temperate and hot environments (both dry and humid);
chemosensory perception of foods and menus in relation to climate; and
composition of the ration, that is, proportion of fat, carbohydrates, etc.
In addition to the application of current biochemical indicators, an important area of research is the development and validation of appropriate functional indicators of nutritional status, with an emphasis on vitamins and minerals for which sweat losses are significant. These functional indicators should relate to endurance, immunity, antioxidants, nutrient deficiencies, and recovery from illness/trauma. A particular concern would be the iron status of military women under conditions that produced significant sweating.
The potential role in stress responses of higher dietary intakes of zinc, vitamin C, and other antioxidants could be explored further with emphasis on heat stress.
Studies that focus on gastrointestinal function in the heat are important, in particular, the effects of various levels of militarily relevant physical activity and the interaction of physical activity with psychological stress and gastrointestinal function.