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Research Questions

  1. What are the most important constructs for nutritional fitness in the scientific literature?
  2. Is there any evidence to suggest that interventions to promote nutritional fitness may be beneficial?
  3. What specific nutritional resources can promote resilience?

This report is one of a series designed to support Air Force leaders in promoting resilience among its Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force family members. It examines the relationship between nutritional fitness and resilience, using key constructs found in the scientific literature that address self-regulation, positive affect, perceived control, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and optimism. Supporting or increasing the levels of the key measures of nutritional fitness identified in this report may facilitate resilience and can protect Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force families from the negative effects of stress. The report also reviews construct measures, well-being, and resilience outcomes as well as interventions designed to promote the nutritional fitness constructs.

Key Findings

Nutritional fitness is a key factor that can affect an individual's resilience and readiness to perform military duties

  • Being nutritionally unfit may prevent an individual from adequately coping with the stress of military duty.
  • Nutritional fitness contributes to resilience by helping service members maintain a healthy weight.
  • Nutritional fitness contributes to resilience by protecting service members against diet-related diseases that affect physical and cognitive functions.
  • Nutritional fitness contributes to resilience by reducing service members' vulnerability to stress and depression.


  • Additional research is needed to determine how effective specific interventions might be within the Air Force.
  • The types of stressors commonly experienced in the Air Force should be identified.
  • The Air Force should take a first step toward measuring the facilitators and barriers to service members' efforts to maintain a healthful diet.
  • Nutritional fitness should be monitored using valid and reliable measures.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    The Context of This Report

  • Chapter Two

    Background to This Report

  • Chapter Three

    Nutritional Fitness Constructs, Measures, and Links to Health Outcomes

  • Chapter Four

    Motivators and Barriers: Psychosocial and Environmental Variables

  • Chapter Five

    Interventions That Promote Nutritional Fitness

  • Chapter Six


Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted within the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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