A descriptive analysis comparison of the findings from this study indicates a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among the army personnel with low SES in Kuala Lumpur camps (41.1%). This is consistent with both studies by Reyes et al. (2015)  in the United States Army and Hattachote et al. (2019)  in the Royal Thai Army, however, when compared with the Malaysian National Health Morbidity Survey 2019 , the prevalence obtained in this study was lower by 9 %. Similarly, the obese prevalence obtained in this study was also smaller by 13.8% as compared to another study done among the low SES group by Razni et al. (2015) , while the overweight prevalence was almost similar at 38.0%. This study showed that about more than one third of the army personnel in each camp in Kuala Lumpur were either overweight or obese.
Married personnel, are more likely to be overweight and obese as compared to those who are single . Living without a partner, either being single or divorced/widow/widower was associated with lower body weight (p < 0.05) . The reason might be due to the variety of food choices provided by their spouses, as compared to the pre-planned food menu approved by local administration for the army personnel who were single. Thus, the food portion’s they took and the nutrition might be different. Support system such as spouses is needed as to motivate individuals towards healthy lifestyle. Poor support system can lead to increase in BMI in married couple especially among those who has obese spouse .
The second predictors of overweight and obesity in this study was secondary education. Ghee (2016) in a systematic review, mentioned that the obesity rate was lower in those with higher education background, and lowest among those with tertiary education background . Higher level of education increases the obesity awareness and trend of healthy lifestyle, hence reducing the occurrence of overweight and obesity . However, the finding by Hruby & Hill (2015)  among US Army soldiers contradicted this, in which they found that higher education such as having advanced degree seemed to be in a relationship with higher odd of overweight/obesity (AOR = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.21–1.38). This might be because, higher level of education usually correlates with higher income population group where money to buy unhealthy snacks and fast prepared food were not an issue . A balance in having the knowledge on healthy lifestyle and actually practicing it is really needed to overcome this issue.
This study also found that the higher the rank is, the more likely a soldier will be either overweight or obese, consistent with other studies such as the finding by Smith et al. (2012)  and Fear et al. (2011) . The rank level in the Army is closely related to the number of years in service. The promotion of an army personnel to the next higher rank is mostly time-based and assessment based . However, rank does not always run in-line with the year of service in army personnel with high Body Mass Index (BMI). This is due to the fact that the army personnel who are overweight/obese, will not be considered for a promotion. Being demoralised, they have little motivation to lose weight. Higher rank comes with higher salary , thus increase one’s SES. Higher socioeconomic status, were more likely to be the cause for overweight and obese because it will lead to consuming high-calorie food and avoiding physically tough tasks .
The army personnel with past injury were more likely to be overweight and obese as compared to those without, consistent with Gregory et al. (2014), who reported that having a history of knee injury showed significant yearly increment in BMI as compared to those without (p = 0.03), as well as significant positive difference in body fat percentage between both group (p = 0.009) . The consistency of physical training among the army personnel might be affected by the past injury, in which there will either be no or little time and effort being invested in doing physical activities . Findings among injured soldiers in the Hruby et al. (2015), Sanderson at al. (2011), and Teyhen et al. (2016) studies have validated the findings, in which injured soldiers are more likely to become overweight and obese due to limitations in their ability to follow the normal high intensity physical regime in the military, and hence are living life in a more sedentary manner [6, 40, 41].
Family history of obesity was another predictor of overweight and obesity in this study. study Shi et al. (2014), found the same finding, in which the odds of being overweight and obesity were higher in the respondents with history of having obese sibling and obese mother (p < 0.001) as compared to those with no family history . Family history is a complex factor with underlying genetic predisposition, which reflects the effect of shared genetics and environment among close relatives . The latter is made known as family acts as a support system in shared physical and social environment towards either healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. The controversial issue with regards to this is, should the military organization in Malaysia limit the intake of those with positive family history of obesity, in order to reduce the prevalence of obesity among its personnel in the long run?
Out of the eleven predictors found in this study, only two of them are modifiable risk factors which are knowledge on dietary intake and plain water intake. Knowledge on dietary intake finding in this study is similar with the findings by Pengpid & Peltzer (2014), in which they mentioned that the odd of overweight and obesity was higher in respondents with lower dietary risk knowledge (95% CI:0.41,0.99) . Knowledge is important to help army personnel to differentiate between unhealthy and healthy diet and sedentary with active lifestyles.
Plain water intake was also found to be a significant predictor in this study, consistent with a study on 50 overweight female participants in Mumbai found that body weight, BMI, sum of skinfold thickness and appetite score were lower after 8 weeks in those with good plain water intake (p < 0.01) . This could be possibly due to the combination of thermogenesis, distention of gastrointestinal organs, changes in osmolarity besides and appetite suppressing effect of drinking enough plain water . Advocating for proper hydration in the busy army routine will improve and hydration profile and help to promote weight loss.
The military organization in Malaysia has conducted various intervention programmes to combat overweight and obesity including health promotion programmes and lifestyle behavioural changes programmes. Some of the programmes did showed positive impacts in instilling awareness among the army personnel, changes their lifestyle and reducing their BMI, However, the findings in this study are showing that, despite many intervention programmes were implemented over the last 2 decades, the cumulative results of all the interventions showing only minimal impact. A closer look at the military intervention programs revealed that, all the intervention programs were merely a one off ad hoc-event every now and then, and were not a standardized whole army intervention programme. However, the limitation of this cross-sectional study was that it could not determine the temporal relationship between overweight and obesity with the factors. This study design also makes it difficult to draw any conclusions on causal relationships based on the findings.