Differences in Collegiate Athlete Nutrition Knowledge as Determined by Athlete Characteristics

Submitted by Allisha M. Weeden, Janette Olsen, John M. Batacan, Teri Peterson

Allisha M. Weeden is an Assistant Professor in the Dietetic Programs at Idaho State University.  Janette Olsen is an Assistant Professor in Health Education at Idaho State University.  John M. Batacan is an Assistant Professor in Health Education at Idaho State University.  Teri Peterson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Business at Idaho State University.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE:  To identify nutrition knowledge based on collegiate sport, where nutrition knowledge was lacking, and specific nutrition related concerns of collegiate athletes.

METHODS: The cross-sectional study evaluated responses to a 65-item written questionnaire.   Participants (n=174; female=88, male=86) competed in 13 different NCAA sanctioned sports.  Nutrition knowledge scores calculated from the number of nutrition knowledge questions correct then converted to a percent from the number of questions correctly answered.  Frequencies, Chi-square, and t-tests were used to report and compare nutrition knowledge scores.

RESULTS: The mean nutrition knowledge score of participants was 56.4% ± 13.4%.  Higher nutrition knowledge scores were associated with completion of a collegiate nutrition course (p = 0.015), participation in individual sports (p = 0.043), and citation of healthcare professionals as the primary source of nutrition information (p = 0.008).  Forty-two percent reported nutrition concerns related to what and how to eat healthy.

CONCLUSIONS:  Collegiate athletes lacked nutrition knowledge and expressed concerns surrounding what and how to eat healthy.  Completion of a collegiate level nutrition course may benefit collegiate athletes, especially those that do not have access to a Registered Dietitian (RD).

APPLICATIONS IN SPORT: Collegiate athletes, athletic departments, and even universities all benefit from successful sports teams.  Nutrition can be a big part of success and the use of a RD to educate athletes ensures appropriate nutrition knowledge is provided.  For universities with financial constraints collegiate level nutrition courses and small group cooking classes taught by an RD may still benefit collegiate athletes.

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