Nutrition knowledge and attitudes of college athletes

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Date: Fall 2007
From: The Sport Journal(Vol. 10, Issue 4)
Publisher: United States Sports Academy
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,731 words
Lexile Measure: 1310L

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Research indicates that the nutritional knowledge of athletes is minimal. Dietary behaviors may hinder health status and athletic performance. The purpose of this study was to compare nutrition knowledge and attitudes of college athletes at a Southern university (N=190). Male and female athletes were surveyed from all sports. The study examined knowledge of current dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, healthy food choices, and the relationship between diet and disease processes. Significant differences in overall knowledge were noted between athletes' collegiate sports and genders. The majority of athletes at this university had healthy attitudes about eating behaviors, but low knowledge scores.

A problem facing America's college youth today is the lack of available healthy fast foods or easily prepared foods. College students have little time and space when it comes to meal preparation within the confines of dorms, apartments, or shared housing. An additional concern is the knowledge needed to determine which food items to select. Current research indicates that as the athletes' knowledge increases, nutritional quality of food choices improves (Kunkel, Bell, & Luccia, 2001).

Nutritional Education and Training (NET) programs are taught to children in most public schools (Sizer & Whitney, 2000), yet few college-age students understand even the basic concepts of nutrition by the time they reach a university setting (Cho & Fryer, 1974; Grandjean, Hursh, Manjure, & Hanley, 1981).

Student athletes with higher nutritional knowledge may obtain information to help increase performances and or maintain healthy or competitive weights (Barr, 1987). However, athletes participating in certain athletic sports have more problems obtaining basic nutrient needs (Beals & Manore, 1998) while attempting to attain or maintain a weight that allows them to stay competitive.

Some nutritional information obtained by athletes may be unreliable (Barr et al., 1997), contributing to the problem of athletes making poor dietary choices (Evans, Sawyer-Morse, & Betsinger, 2000). The purpose of this study was to examine nutrition knowledge and attitudes in a sample of athletes in a university setting.


Data Collection Instruments

Nutritional knowledge was assessed using the Nutrition and Knowledge Questionnaire developed by Parameter and Wardle (2000). Permission for use of the questionnaire was obtained. The questionnaire included four sections covering (a) experts' recommendations regarding increasing and decreasing intake of different food groups, (b) nutrient knowledge, (c) food choices (which ask people to choose between different options, e.g., to pick a healthy snack which is low in fat and high in fiber), and (d) the relationships between diet and disease. This last section addresses beliefs about which foods can cause particular diseases as well as knowledge of diseases associated with eating too much or too little of various foods.

Nutrition attitudes were measured using the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT 26) developed by Garner and Garfinkel (1979). Access to the questionnaire was obtained online with permission of the authors. The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) is probably the most widely used standardized measure of symptoms and concerns characteristic of eating disorders (Garner, Olmstead, Bohr, & Garfinkel, 1982). Early identification of eating disorders is...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A170455884