Female athletes often engage in harmful dietary and weight control practices that can impair bone health and hinder performance. To promote related positive health behavior practices, nutrition educators may be more effective if they understand the osteoporosis knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among female athletes. A questionnaire including items related to osteoporosis and dietary calcium knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral practices was administered to 114 female collegiate athletes (19.6 ± 1.4 years). Self-reported intakes of dairy product consumption were also obtained; subjects were asked how many times per week they drank milk and ate cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. The mean score for osteoporosis knowledge was 7.1 ± 1.9 (out of 10 items). The mean score for favorable responses to attitude items was 2.1 ± 0.8 (out of 3 items). Correct responses to dietary calcium knowledge items were 2.2 ± 0.7 (out of 3 items). On average, subjects consumed 2.4 ± 1.6 servings of dairy products per day; 31% of subjects consumed the recommended 3 or more servings per day. Osteoporosis knowledge, osteoporosis attitudes, and dietary calcium knowledge were not correlated (p > .05) with dairy product intake. Because of the importance of achieving a high peak bone mass to prevent osteoporosis, our data suggest that further research is needed regarding other factors that might influence dairy product intake among female athletes.
The authors are with the Department of Health Science, Kinesiology, Recreation and Dance at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.