Evaluation of nutrition knowledge in elite and sub-elite Gaelic football players
Kelly, David T.
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Nutrition knowledge is a key factor for consideration when evaluating the dietary intake of athletes. Positive associations have been established between higher nutrition knowledge and improved quality of dietary intake. Given the negative impact poor nutrition can have on performance and training adaptation, further investigation into athletes’ nutrition knowledge is warranted. Gaelic football is a field-based invasion team sport and players represent a unique sporting population due to their quasi-professional status. Inadequacies in players dietary intake have been observed, however no assessment of nutrition knowledge has been reported. This study examined players knowledge and compared results by playing level, education level, and history of nutrition education. An online survey was disseminated to a sample of male Gaelic football players (n = 152, mean age = 24.5 ± 5.9). This included 68 club (sub-elite) and 84 inter-county players (elite). Total score was 44.3 ± 12.7%, classified as “poor” and lower than previous findings from similar team sports. Significance was set at p<0.05 for all tests. There were no differences between playing level, however when grouped by education level those with master’s degree scored higher by 9.9% in comparison to leaving certificate (upper secondary) (P= 0.009, d = .805). Those with previous nutrition education also demonstrated higher scores by 12.5% (P<.001, d = 1.096). The evidence presented highlights that Gaelic football players may benefit from evidence-based nutrition education interventions. Future research should consider assessment of both nutrition knowledge and dietary intake to examine any direct influence upon behaviour and subsequently sporting performance.
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