Perceived Dietary Quality and Habits of Collegiate Student-Athletes

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Kyle Brauman
Rebecca M. Achen
Jennifer L Barnes


Nutritional Information Source, Sports Nutrition, Body Composition


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate student-athletes’ source of nutritional information, perceived quality of dietary intake, and body composition beliefs while exploring how these factors may affect dietary decisions.
Methods: Student-athletes at an NCAA division 1 university were invited to complete a survey. The survey was designed using the literature on nutrition habits and barriers to healthy eating in athletes and young adults. A professional review and pilot study were conducted before data collection commenced over a two-week period.
Results: A total of 169 student-athletes fully completed the survey. Responses indicate a sample that derives their nutritional information mostly from strength and conditioning coaches (SCC) (41%), family (16%), and social media (14%), did not indicate a desire to change body composition for health (76%) or sports performance motivations (65%), and overall felt positive about the quality of their dietary intake (94%). ANOVA and post-hoc Fisher’s LSD revealed significant positive relationships between a ‘Very Good’ dietary intake rating and corresponding fruit (p = .002) and vegetable (p < .001) serving intake when compared to a ‘Bad’ dietary intake rating. Conclusions: SCC’s/Athletic trainers are commonly identified sources of nutritional information for student-athletes and present a potential point of intervention. Student- athletes may possess a disconnect between the perception of their dietary intake vs. the adequacy of their dietary intake, though further research is needed to confirm this. Future studies should examine body composition beliefs of student-athletes including physical appearance as a potential motivator.

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