Section: Original Research
Authors: Geoff P. Lovell1, John K. Parker2, and Gary J. Slater3
Affiliations: 1 School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia. 2 Faculty of Sport Health and Social Care, University of Gloucestershire, Longlevens, Gloucester, UK. 3 School of Health and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia.
Acceptance Date: November 6, 2012
Research in sports science disciplines such as sport psychology has demonstrated that practitioner’s physical characteristics influence clients’ perceptions of their effectiveness, potentially mediating the efficacy of subsequent interventions. However, very little research has been directed towards this issue for sports dietitians (SDs’), the health professionals that athletes are likely to engage to assist with manipulation of physique traits. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to identify if the phenotype of SDs’, specifically body mass index (BMI), and type of dress, influences potential clients’ preference to consult them for dietetic support and if this impacts on their perceived effectiveness. Methods: One hundred volunteers (age mean = 18.7, ± 0 .8 years) all participating in regular competitive sport, classified by gender (male, n = 55, or female, n = 45) and competitive standard (elite/sub-elite, n = 68, or club/recreational, n = 32) viewed slides representing four concurrently presented computer generated images of the same female SD manipulated to represent different BMIs and dress types. Participants were asked to rank the SDs’ in order of their preference to work with them, and secondly, to rate perceived effectiveness of each of the SDs’. Results: Key findings included the observation of a significant BMI main effect F (6, 91) = 387.39, p < 0.001 (effect size 0.96) with participants’ ranking of preference and rating of perceived effectiveness of female SDs’ decreasing with increasing BMI. Conclusion: SDs’ should consider their physical appearance when meeting with athletes as this may impact on perceived efficacy.
Keywords: sport nutrition, physique, efficacy expectations.