Nutrition knowledge and eating behaviors among male and female collegiate athletes and non-athletes

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Klitzky, Julie A.
Kandiah, Jayanthi
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
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The purpose of the study was to determine if there is a difference in nutrition knowledge and eating behaviors among collegiate male and female athletes and non-athletes. Although a vast majority of research has looked at female athletes, to date there has been limited research comparing athletes and non-athletes, specifically investigations involving males.A sample of male and female collegiate athletes and non-athletes completed an online questionnaire. The questions were formulated based the 2005 Food Guide Pyramid as well as factual nutrition knowledge questions. Once the survey was completed, the data was analyzed using the Pearson Correlation and ANOVA.A total of 1,252 participants completed the survey with a little over 78% being female. Only 7.2% (n=90) of the participants reported they were members of a collegiate sports team. The overall mean score for nutrition knowledge was 11.42 ±2.30 for all participants, representing a correct score of only 57%. Athletes had a mean score of 11.15 +2.55 and non-athletes with a mean score of 11.44 +2.28 showing no statistical difference. When comparing gender, females had a mean nutrition knowledge score of11.56 ±2.31 and males had a mean score of 10.90 ±2.22. Although females had a higher average knowledge score than males, this was not found to be statistically different.Eating behaviors were assessed using the 2005 Food Guide Pyramid. Males ate significantly more meals/day and servings of vegetables, grains, dairy and meats, nuts and beans than their female counter part. When looking at eating behaviors of athletes and non-athletes, very few statistical differences occurred. Athletes ate significantly more meals per day (3.29 ±.69) than non-athletes (2.65 ±.70). Similarly, athletes consumed significantly more (3.00 ±.74) cups of fruit per day than non-athletes (2.68 ±.59). No statistical differences were found between athletes and non-athletes for the amount of vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, nuts, and beans and fast food consumed.