The assessment of general nutrition knowledge in New Zealand athletes
Background: The foundation of any young athlete’s nutrition regimen begins with the knowledge of a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet, which enables the athlete to meet the physical demands of training and competition. At an elite level, athletes often have access to a sports dietitian or nutritionist for appropriate and accurate nutritional advice, however, it is not clear whether athletes score higher in general nutrition knowledge when compared to a non-athletic (NA) control group. Despite the recognised importance of using validated and reliable assessment tools, the nutrition knowledge of athletes has inconsistently been assessed with such tools. Using a previously validated tool, we aim to evaluate the general nutrition knowledge of New Zealand athletes (with access to a sports dietitian or nutritionist) against a non-athletic control (NA) group of similar age and sex. Method: Convenience samples of male athletes (n=125) and non-athletes (n=153) with similar age and education backgrounds were recruited to complete the online or paper-format version of the previously validated general nutrition knowledge questionnaire (GNKQ) (G. A. Hendrie, Cox, & Coveney, 2008; Parmenter & Wardle, 1999). The revised scoring protocol (R-GNKQ) for the tool, developed by Spendlove et al (2011) was used to assess four domains of general nutrition knowledge including: dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, choosing everyday foods and diet-disease relationships. Psychometric assessment of the R-GNKQ was performed, including internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Findings: The NA control group scored significantly higher than the athletes in all domains of general nutrition knowledge and for total nutrition knowledge score (TNKS) (all p≤0.038). When adjustments were made for confounding factors of nutrition knowledge (age, education, ethnicity and living arrangements), the between-group differences were attenuated for all sections and TNKS; the athletes were still found to score less than the NA group however the differences between groups were no longer statistically significant. The highest and lowest scoring sections of the GNKQ were dietary recommendations and diet-disease relationships, respectively. Acceptable levels of internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha= 0.86) and test-retest reliability (Spearman’s rank correlation= 0.83; Intraclass correlation= 0.80) were demonstrated by the R-GNKQ scoring protocol when used in a young adult NZ population. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the male athletes with access to a sports dietitian or nutritionist did not possess a higher level of general nutrition knowledge when compared to a male NA control group of similar age. The results of this study provide a baseline measure of nutrition knowledge for young NZ athletes and non-athletes; however, further research is needed to determine whether a relationship exists between general nutrition knowledge and dietary intake in these populations.
Advisor: Fairbairn, Kirsty; Perry, Tracy
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Nutrition knowledge; Athletes; Nutrition education; Nutrition; Adult; Sports
Research Type: Thesis