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Military Recommended Dietary Allowances

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has utilized dietary recommendations with military personnel since 1919. During 1990 the Department of the Army began to discuss the need to revise the current version of the Military Recommended Dietary Allowances (MRDAs). At the June 28–30, 1990, meeting of the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR), the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) requested that the CMNR discuss the MRDA review and revision at its subsequent meeting. The impetus for initiating a discussion of the adequacy of the current MRDA and the need for revision resulted from the publication of the 10th edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA; for the general, healthy American population) by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) in late 1989.

BACKGROUND

A CMNR meeting on November 27–28, 1990 in Washington, D.C., was principally devoted to a discussion of the revision of the current MRDAs. COL (retired) David D. Schnakenberg, then Director, Army Systems Hazards, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, provided a historical overview of military involvement with dietary recommendations. Early surveys



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Committee on Military Nutrition Research: Activity Report Military Recommended Dietary Allowances The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has utilized dietary recommendations with military personnel since 1919. During 1990 the Department of the Army began to discuss the need to revise the current version of the Military Recommended Dietary Allowances (MRDAs). At the June 28–30, 1990, meeting of the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR), the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) requested that the CMNR discuss the MRDA review and revision at its subsequent meeting. The impetus for initiating a discussion of the adequacy of the current MRDA and the need for revision resulted from the publication of the 10th edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA; for the general, healthy American population) by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) in late 1989. BACKGROUND A CMNR meeting on November 27–28, 1990 in Washington, D.C., was principally devoted to a discussion of the revision of the current MRDAs. COL (retired) David D. Schnakenberg, then Director, Army Systems Hazards, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, provided a historical overview of military involvement with dietary recommendations. Early surveys

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Committee on Military Nutrition Research: Activity Report of food consumption by soldiers resulted in establishment of the nutrient requirements for soldier training in 1919. These early requirements provided recommendations for consumption of protein, fat, and carbohydrate as a percentage of daily calories (12.5%, 25%, and 62.5%, respectively). During the Second World War the focus on nutrient recommendations centered on optimal nutrition, not minimal requirements. Because of the emphasis on military nutrition, the FNB was established in 1940 under the auspices of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and began to prepare and publish RDAs for Americans. In 1947, the Department of the Army implemented military regulation AR 40-250, providing specified minimum nutrient intake levels as the dietary standard for garrison and field rations. The MRDA under AR 40-250 (now AR 40-25; the first tri-service regulation) has been revised numerous times through 1985, with revisions resulting from expanding scientific evidence on diet and health and from information provided in revisions of the RDA. Current policy covers not only MRDA for macronutrients and micronutrients, but also clarifies the use of the MRDA in menu planning, dietary evaluation of populations, nutrition education and research, and food research and development. COL Schnackenberg's presentation was followed by additional presentations on the feasibility of attaining governmentally-established dietary recommendations and the process of establishing RDAs. The Committee then began an in-depth discussion with representatives from DoD agencies about their respective concerns related to the revision of the MRDA. Overall, their concerns focused on the need for balance and control of macronutrient intake (i.e., protein, fat, and carbohydrate) and reduction in total fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Additional issues focused on the promotion of lifelong health, the palatability and acceptability of garrison meals, and the preference of military personnel for eggs and high-protein diets. With the concurrent experience during Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, there was considerable discussion over the MRDA for sodium and the need for increased daily intake of sodium and fluid in hot environments related to military performance. Several DoD agencies could not support a single value for sodium intake that would cover both normal intake and intake under extreme environments. The CMNR concluded its meeting with a discussion centering on the discrepancies between the RDAs and the MRDAs and proposals to accept the 10th edition of the RDAs as the MRDAs. However, concerns over protein, sodium, fat, and cholesterol were of importance in promoting health and performance in military personnel. Since the Army was in the process of drafting a revised MRDA, the CMNR deferred further discussion and formulation of recommendations until asked to comment on the revision.

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Committee on Military Nutrition Research: Activity Report REVISED RECOMMENDATIONS In August, 1993 COL (now retired) Karen E. Fridlund, Chief, of the Dietitian Section, Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General, sent a letter to Bernadette Marriott, FNB Program Director for the CMNR, requesting that the Committee review and make comments on a recent draft of the MRDAs (AR 40-25, 1985). After discussion with COL Eldon W. Askew, Grant Officer Representative of the Army for the CMNR program, it was decided that the Committee would devote part of their executive session following a workshop in November, 1993 to review and comment on the MRDAs (AR 40-25, revised draft). Prior to the November meeting, Bernadette Marriott, Program Director for the FNB for the CMNR, reviewed the original and revised drafts and developed a detailed comparative document to assist the Committee is their review process. On November 5, 1993 a sub-committee of the CMNR reviewed the comparison document and the original and draft revisions in detail. The Committee on Military Nutrition Research 's role was to evaluate, comment upon and make specific recommendations regarding changes in the MRDAs designed to reflect changes where appropriate, in the latest version of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), published by the Food and Nutrition Board (NRC, 1989b) and other relevant national policy statements on nutrition and health such as the Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health (DHHS, 1988) and the Diet and Health report (NRC, 1989a). The CMNR understood fully that the responsibility for the final decisions in program remains with the Army. The subcommittee found a number of aspects of the revised draft confusing and discussed their findings with the full Committee. The CMNR concluded that the confusion generated by the present draft could most likely be alleviated through expansion of several sections and the addition of explanatory footnotes and text. The Committee verbally conveyed their request for additional materials to COL Fridlund and deferred further discussion and formulation of recommendations until receipt of additional material or a second revised draft. In late January, 1994 the CMNR received another revision of the MRDAs (AR 40-25, 1985) for their consideration and recommendations. The Committee included discussion of this revision in their executive session after a workshop in February, 1994. A letter report with CMNR recommendations is under preparation for submission to the U.S. Army Medical Research, Development, Acquisition, and Logistics Command (Provisional)

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Committee on Military Nutrition Research: Activity Report [USAMRDALC (PROV)] and Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General in late 1994 or early 1995.