Background: Appropriate and sufficient dietary intake is one of the main requirements for maintaining fitness and health. Inadequate energy intake may have a negative impact on physical performance which may result in injuries among physically active populations. The purpose of this research was to evaluate a possible relationship between dietary intake and stress fracture occurrence among combat recruits during basic training (BT).
Methods: Data was collected from 74 combat recruits (18.2 ± 0.6 yrs) in the Israeli Defense Forces. Data analyses included changes in anthropometric measures, dietary intake, blood iron and calcium levels. Measurements were taken on entry to 4-month BT and at the end of BT. The occurrence of stress reaction injury was followed prospectively during the entire 6-month training period.
Results: Twelve recruits were diagnosed with stress fracture in the tibia or femur (SF group). Sixty two recruits completed BT without stress fractures (NSF). Calcium and vitamin D intakes reported on induction day were lower in the SF group compared to the NSF group-38.9% for calcium (589 ± 92 and 964 ± 373 mg·d-1, respectively, p < 0.001), and-25.1% for vitamin D (117.9 ± 34.3 and 157.4 ± 93.3 IU·d-1, respectively, p < 0.001). During BT calcium and vitamin D intake continued to be at the same low values for the SF group but decreased for the NSF group and no significant differences were found between these two groups.
Conclusions: The development of stress fractures in young recruits during combat BT was associated with dietary deficiency before induction and during BT of mainly vitamin D and calcium. For the purpose of intervention, the fact that the main deficiency is before induction will need special consideration.