Background: U.S. military families are experiencing high obesity rates similar to the civilian population. The Department of Defense's Military Health System (MHS) is one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, serving approximately 9.2 million active duty service members, retirees, spouses, and children. The annual cost to the MHS for morbidities associated with being overweight exceeds $1 billion. The preschool age has been suggested as an opportune time to intervene for the prevention of obesity. Thus, this study investigated the current level of technology usage by military service member families and assessed their needs and interests in health/nutrition information. This needs assessment is crucial for researchers/educators to design further studies and intervention programs for obesity prevention in military families with young children. Materials and Methods: In total, 288 military parents (233 Army and 55 Air Force) at two military bases whose children were enrolled in military childcare centers in the southwestern United States participated in a Technology Usage in Military Family (TUMF) survey in 2013. Results and Conclusions: Overall, both bases presented similar technology usage patterns in terms of computer and mobile device usage on the Internet. Air Force base parents had a slightly higher knowledge level of nutrition/health information than Army base parents. The TUMF survey suggested practical ways such as mobile applications/Web sites, social networks, games, etc., that health educators can use to disseminate nutrition/health information for obesity prevention among military families with young children.
- Military medicine