Statement of Problem: The major objectives of this study were to determine the difference in nutrition-related knowledge between sport, gender, and academic year; how nutrition interest varied between sport and gender; and how perceived nutrition-related knowledge correlated with actual nutrition-related knowledge in a collegiate athlete population.
Methods and Procedures: Data was collected using a survey, which was created new for the purposes of this study and was administered to student-athletes in a face-to-face setting. The survey instrument covered a variety of topic areas, including nutrition-related knowledge, perceived nutrition-related knowledge, and nutrition topics of interest. Data was analyzed after all 17 intercollegiate athletic teams, 319 subjects (approximately 75% of the student-athlete population), were surveyed. Descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, Pearson correlation, two-sample t-tests, and ANOVA tests were conducted.
Results: The women's gymnastics team scored significantly higher with regard to nutrition-related knowledge than any other team surveyed, scoring an average of 9.9 out of 14 (p = 0.000). The men's football and men's basketball teams scored significantly lower with regard to nutrition-related knowledge than all other teams, scoring, on average, 7.5 and 6.6 out of 14, respectively (p = 0.000). Female athletes, scoring an 8.8 out of 14, scored significantly higher on average than male athletes, scoring a 7.8 out of 14 (p = 0.000). There was no significant difference in nutrition-related knowledge between academic years. Nutrition topics of interest varied between sport, with pre- and post-workout meals, healthier fast food alternatives, and energy requirements being the topics of highest interest. Females, overall, were most interested in the topics of cheap, healthy meals and safe, healthy weight loss, while males were found to be most interested in the topics of sports drinks and muscle building. Lastly, there was no significant correlation found between perceived and actual nutrition-related knowledge (r = 0.093).
Conclusions: Future nutrition education interventions at the university under review should be tailored to fit the interests and education levels of the sport or gender being educated. This will assist in the optimization of retained information, providing a greater opportunity for improvements in athletic performance and overall quality of life.