Navy on a Diet

Chow hall changes


School cafeterias aren't the only ones Uncle Sam is intent on making over. Last May, the U.S. Navy announced a number of menu changes designed to make its meals more nutritious. Chow halls now feature skim and soy milk rather than whole milk, more prominently displayed produce, and a ban on deep-fried foods—only baked chicken and french fries are allowed.

The changes are part of a larger plan "to boost sailors' nutrition to new levels," the Navy Times reported in July. Navy members can also expect to see calorie counts posted in cafeterias and to receive training on healthy eating habits. Further menu revisions are planned. Whereas once the military mostly cared about doing things as cheaply as possible, now there's more focus on nutritional content, said Jeffrey Walker, a food service officer at the Fort Story base in Virginia. He thinks that "if the food is prepared right, sailors will accept the change over time."

The cafeteria tweaks come at the same time the Navy is increasing its body-fat limit for sailors but also implementing a new policy where two body-fat assessment failures in a three-year period means you're out. Vice Admiral Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel, told the Times that the Navy's fitness program is in a "transition" phase.