Committee Summary and Recommendations
PART I OUTLINES THE TASK presented to the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) by scientists at the Military Nutrition Division (MND) (currently the Military Nutrition and Biochemical Division), U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). This task was to identify and evaluate new technologies to determine whether these technologies will provide useful tools to help solve important issues in military nutrition research. As part of the charge to the CMNR, the Army posed the following six questions:
Will the technology be a significant improvement over current technologies?
How likely is the technology to mature sufficiently for practical use, and if so, how soon will it be available?
Consider the cost/benefit ratio of the new technology. How expensive (in both monetary and personnel terms) will it be to employ compared to the importance of the information it will provide?
Is the technology of such critical value that its development should be supported by DoD funds—such as can be provided by the SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) program? If so, provide the necessary information to justify such support.
How practical is the technology? Will it require dedicated personnel and complex, exotic equipment? Will the data provided the difficult to analyze?
Is the technique applicable to field testing scenarios (could it be used in the field or used to analyze data collected in the field such as frozen plasma samples)?
In Chapter 1, the committee presents an overview of the project using relevant background materials and the workshop proceedings from May 22–23, 1995. The committee then summarizes the techniques under consideration with regard to their state of the art, maturity and availability, practicality, military relevance, and complicating factors and methodological questions. Considered were techniques of body composition assessment, tracer techniques for the study of metabolism, ambulatory techniques for determination of energy expenditure, molecular and cellular approaches to nutrition, assessment of immune function, and functional and behavioral measures of nutritional status.
Before presenting its conclusions and recommendations in Chapter 2, the CMNR frames its answers to the questions posed by the Army in terms of the 6 techniques reviewed. Body composition assessment is used for accession and retention standards; while anthropometric measurements are most applicable for evaluating compliance, more sophisticated methods (such as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, magnetic resonance imaging, and computerized axial tomography) should be used to refine the anthropometric measurements. Noninvasive tracer techniques for the study of metabolism, such as stable isotopes, are militarily relevant and applicable in the field; however, the costs associated with trained personnel and expensive equipment need to be considered. Ambulatory monitoring techniques allow for measuring energy expenditure in the field and are in use. At the present time, molecular and cellular approaches should be confined to already-established research laboratories, even for issues of military interest. Studies of immune function and the development of vaccines and antibodies are of particular military relevance when considering the stress of military operations in relation to performance. The development of monitoring devices for evaluating cognitive performance in the field are similarly important.