Abstract

BackgroundOverweight and cardiovascular risk factors are a common phenomenon in seafarers. According to internal observation particularly crew members from the Pacific Island State of Kiribati are exposed to a high risk. However, in mixed crews, cultural background plays an important role, influencing food choice, and the actual risk.MethodsThe Seafarer Nutrition Study (SeaNut study) compared dietary factors in 48 Kiribati and 33 European male seafarers recruited from four merchant ships with a high level of Kiribati manning within a German shipping company. Analysis encompassed the assessment of dietary quality on board, satisfaction with prepared dishes, and individual food intake obtained from 24-h recalls in comparison with nutritional recommendations.ResultsThe overall supply of meat, fat and eggs was more than double, whereas the proportions of fruits, vegetables, dairy products and cereals were much lower than recommended. Based on the reported food choices, both groups, but notably Kiribati seafarers, did not reach reference values as to macronutrient, micronutrient and fiber intake. In addition, satisfaction with the meals served, food preferences and knowledge about a healthy diet varied markedly between Kiribati and Europeans.ConclusionsThe present analysis of the SeaNut study revealed the necessity of future health intervention programs, including the quality of the food supply as well as information about a healthy diet and adequate food selection. In mixed crews, culture-specific differences should be considered, in order to facilitate the long-term success of interventions.Trial registrationGerman Clinical Trials Registry DRKS00010819 retrospectively. Registered 18 July 2016 (www.germanctr.de).

Highlights

  • Overweight and cardiovascular risk factors are a common phenomenon in seafarers

  • Previous research indicates that seafarers on merchant ships are exposed to a high risk of overweight and cardiovascular disease due to specific work conditions [1]

  • Baseline characteristics Median age did not differ between Kiribati and European crew members (Table 1)

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Summary

Introduction

Overweight and cardiovascular risk factors are a common phenomenon in seafarers. According to internal observation crew members from the Pacific Island State of Kiribati are exposed to a high risk. Previous research indicates that seafarers on merchant ships are exposed to a high risk of overweight and cardiovascular disease due to specific work conditions [1]. In Germany, there are some shipping companies with a high proportion of Kiribati seafarers as these employees are known to be very experienced in seafaring and medical fit for sea service. Limited opportunities to select a healthy, balanced diet for several months on board may contribute to the high prevalence of overweight and associated cardiovascular risk factors among seafarers [1, 2]. Previous research indicates that the traditional diet on board seems to be meat-oriented, while the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is rather low [8, 9]

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