understanding nutrition knowledge and behaviors of collegiate athletes

Open Access
Author:
Fisher, Scott Yves
Graduate Program:
Kinesiology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 11, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Melissa Jean Bopp, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • nutrition
  • knowledge
  • behaviors
  • collegiate
  • athletes
Abstract:
Background: Collegiate athletes often have inadequate diets due to lack appropriate nutrition knowledge (NK) and subsequently poor nutrition behavior (NB). Poor diet may compromise athletic performance, delay recovery from physical activity, and increase vulnerability to injury and illness. The purpose of the this study was to examine the relationship between gender, prior nutrition-related coursework, international vs. domestic student status, living situation, sport played, race/ethnicity, and year in school with NK and NB. Methods: Collegiate athletes from Fairleigh Dickinson University, an NCAA Division I institution, voluntarily participated in the cross-sectional study. An online questionnaire distributed to the athletes via members of the coaching staff collected anthropometric and demographic information in addition to information on nutrition knowledge and behaviors. Descriptive data were calculated as frequencies (%). A Pearson correlation (r) was used to examine the relationship between NK and NB. An independent samples t-test (t) was used to determine differences between male and female gender, whether or not an athlete had previous nutrition-related coursework, and NK and NB. A one-way ANOVA (F) was used to determine differences between living situation, sport played, race/ethnicity, year in school and NK and NB. Results: The final sample (n=140) consisted of 42.5% male and 57.5% female athletes. The study found no significant relationship between NK and NB. No significant difference was found between genders for NK and NB. Athletes who had previous nutrition-related coursework were found to have significantly greater NK (p=.025). However, there was no difference between NB and those who had previous nutrition-related coursework and those who did not. International athletes were found to have significantly better NK (p=.005) compared to domestic athletes. Athletes living off-campus alone or with roommates had better NK (p=.02) compared to students living on-campus or off-campus with family. No significant differences were found between sport teams with respect to either NB or NK. Fourth year/senior athletes were found to have significantly better NK compared to both first year/freshman athletes (p=.029) and second year/sophomore athletes (p=.028). Conclusions: This study revealed that while differences do appear to exist among the collegiate athletes in this population with respect to levels of NK, there seems to be very little difference across the population with respect to NB. The results of this study also indicate that NK may not be a good predictor of NB in collegiate athletes and that despite adequate NK, barriers to improved NB may exist.