Metabolic Monitoring Technologies for Military Field Applications

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Food and Nutrition, Select Populations and Health Equity, Military and Veterans Health
Board: Food and Nutrition Board

Activity Description

The Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) examined the state-of-the-science of biological markers to predict individual health and performance outcomes related to regulation of water and substrate metabolism. This is a subset of a larger military effort in physiological monitoring.  This study focused on metabolic regulation during prolonged, exhaustive efforts (such as combat training or field operations), where nutrition/hydration and repair mechanisms may be mismatched to intakes and rest, or where specific metabolic derangements are present (e.g., following toxic chemical exposures or psychological threats).  In the final report, the Committee addressed the following specific questions:

  1. What are the most promising biomarkers for prediction of (a) excessive rates of bone and muscle turnover (e.g., urinary or sweat biochemical markers), (b) reduced glucose and energy metabolism (e.g., bioelectrical indicators of muscle and mental fatigue), (c) dehydration (e.g., changes in heart rate and skin temperature), and (d) decrements in cognitive function?
  2. What monitoring technologies would be required (that may not currently exist) to predict these intermediate targets in critical pathways?
  3. What tools currently exist for monitoring metabolic status that could be useful in the field?
  4. What algorithms are available that might provide useful predictions from combined sensor signals (e.g., foot strike monitor combined with heart rate monitoring to follow changes in metabolic efficiency)?   What additional measurement would improve specificity of the predictions?
  5. What is the committee "blue sky" forecast for useful metabolic monitoring approaches (i.e., 10-20 year projection)?  What are the current research investments that may lead to revolutionary advances?

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