Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Wanda M. Koszewski. Lincoln, NE: April, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Melissa M. Wallinga


BACKGROUND Little data has been collected on the nutrition knowledge and self efficacy of NCAA Athletes, and if Sports Nutrition Departments at Universities do positively affect the nutrition knowledge and self-efficacy of athletes. OBJECTIVES To determine and compare differences in nutrition knowledge and self-efficacy of athletes at two NCAA Division I Universities, one with a Sports Nutrition Department, and one without.

SETTING Participants completed a survey in person at their respective University.

PARTICIPANTS Male and female student athletes (n=327) from two Division I Universities, participating in men’s football, men’s wrestling, women’s soccer, or women’s swimming/diving.

RESULTS Approximately 42% of the participants (n=137) were from School A, the University without a full-time Sports Registered Dietitian (RD), and approximately 58% (n=190) were from School B, the University with a full-time Sports RD. In general, a significantly higher number of athletes from school B received their nutrition information from a Sports RD (p < 0.05). Athletes from school A received most of their nutrition information from a strength and conditioning coach (28%), family (23%), and the internet (26%). Athletes from school B identified their main sources of nutrition information as strength and conditioning coaches (43%), teammates (26%), the internet (28%), and a Registered Dietitian (24%). A significant amount more athletes from school B identified that they actively seek out nutrition information, were aware of how many calories they should consume, and identified having a Sports Nutritionist at their University benefiting them as an athlete (p < 0.05). More significant differences were found regarding sources of nutrition information and counseling and nutrition knowledge among football athletes than among the other three sports (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The athletes from the University with the full-time Sports RD more often sought out nutrition information, saw more importance in seeking out nutrition information, were more knowledgeable about nutrition, and were more confident in making certain nutrition decisions. Each Division I University should have, on campus, a full time Sports Registered Dietitian.