Should soldiers be expected to “be all that they can be” if they haven't been getting the proper nutrition?
The Army doesn’t think so, which is why they tasked their Military Nutrition Division with developing a fortified snack bar specifically for new recruits.
The chocolate-flavored snack bars are loaded with calcium and vitamin D — two nutrients that will help prevent stress fractures during long marches and strenuous physical activity, The Army Times reports.
“Up to 18 percent of recruits suffer from these stress fractures,” says James McClung, the deputy chief of the Military Nutrition Division at the army’s Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. “Women beginning training with poor vitamin D status are particularly vulnerable.”
Furthermore, McClung says that around 60 percent of recruits who suffer stress fractures end up dropping out of the Army — and the ones who suffer fractures and don’t leave are more susceptible to serious bone injuries in the future.
The Army’s new snack bars are currently still in the testing phase, but Chung claims they’re already working.
“We are seeing marked improvements in their nutritional status and their bone health,” he says.
The Air Force, too, has already boosted performance by providing its trainees with similar nutrition bars — but as The Army Times notes, those particular bars were not developed by the U.S. Government; they're simply of the “commercially available” variety.
The United States Army will begin distributing their snack bars to recruits at four basic-training facilities in 2018. They’re also expected to share the results of the program with other branches of the military.
Army Maj. Kayla Ramotar, a dietitian within the Training and Doctrine Command, doesn’t foresee any problems with the new nutritional regimen, either.
“Trainees don’t get a lot of treats during basic training, and since this bar is made of chocolate, we know compliance won’t be an issue,” Ramotar told The Army Times. “It’s a lot more enticing than having to swallow a bunch of pills.”