Nutrition knowledge and dietary intakes of university athletes in Taiwan
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For athletes proper nutrition can make the difference in performance. In Taiwan, there is limited information about what athletes eat and their nutrition knowledge. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the nutrition knowledge and dietary intakes of university athletes in Taiwan. The data for the study were obtained by a nutrition knowledge questionnaire and a 3-day food intake record from 169 volunteer university athletes in Taiwan. Dietary intakes were analyzed by a computerized software package and compared to the Recommended Daily Nutrient Allowances (RDNA) which are the Taiwan version of the RDA. The results of the study indicate that these university athletes in Taiwan had some nutrition knowledge, however, they also had some misconceptions about sports-related nutrition and food. Female athletes had a significantly higher mean nutrition knowledge score than the male athletes. Athletes with prior nutrition education also had a significantly higher mean score than those who had never taken a nutrition course. Nutrition education was found to be the most important variable for nutrition knowledge in this study. Results of this study also showed that the nutrition knowledge scores improved as sport experience increased. Most of the athletes had a low caloric intake when compared to the RDNA. Energy from protein and fat was slightly higher while that from carbohydrates was slightly lower. The mean intakes of most vitamins and minerals approximated or exceeded the RDNA, but there were instances where individual intakes were below two-thirds of the RDNA. The mean intake of riboflavin for men's handball players and the mean intake of vitamin E for men's soccer players were below 67% of the RDNA. There were positive correlations between nutrition knowledge and certain dietary intake levels, suggesting that nutrition knowledge of university athletes in Taiwan could improve their dietary intakes. The author concluded that nutrition education programs and diet counseling could benefit the athletes in Taiwan.