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What should I eat next? Development of a theoretical model of how college -aged football players make food choices

Douglas J Long, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this project was to develop a theoretical model for how college-aged, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division (D) II football players make food choices. The existing literature in sports nutrition is well researched in the area of nutrient intake and timing of ingestion. Theoretical models of how athletes make food choices do not exist in the literature. There is only one study that shows a theoretical model for men's ice hockey players. Ice hockey players are typically of similar body size with similar skill sets. This study utilizes collegiate football players and will broaden the current body of knowledge by using athletes different from ice hockey players. Text data were analyzed using the qualitative approach of grounded theory to investigate the participants' action, interaction and reactions to the food choice process. The participants were purposely sampled to represent ethnic, body type and skill set. The sample included two kickers, seven backs, two receivers, and four linemen. There were four sophomores, nine juniors and two seniors and ten Caucasians, three Hispanics and two African-Americans. The transcribed interviews, from fifteen athletes, were analyzed using open-, axial-, and selective-coding procedures. As a result of the coding processes a theoretical model for the food choice system of college football players was developed. The results of selective coding showed time as the primary proposition. Macronutrients, money value, quick fix foods, healthy food choices, routines and planned hydration were the categories that emerged from the text data. Member checks, peer debriefings, and triangulation were used to ensure trustworthiness of the findings. The findings from this study indicated that football players were primarily concerned with consuming high protein foods while attaining and maintaining adequate hydration levels. Carbohydrate consumption was a secondary consideration. A majority of the athletes planned their meals and snacks around their academic and athletic schedules. Results of this study provide professionals with food choice information to initiate and implement educational programs and behavioral changes for collegiate Division II football players.^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, General|Education, Health

Recommended Citation

Long, Douglas J, "What should I eat next? Development of a theoretical model of how college -aged football players make food choices" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3330678.