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Social media contains a wealth of nutrition information and proposes a cost-effective, highly engaging platform to deliver nutrition information to athletes. This study used an online questionnaire to determine whether New Zealand athletes are using social media as a source of nutrition information and to understand perceptions of social media as a nutrition resource. Quantitative data were analyzed using t tests, chi-squared tests, and logistic regression analysis. Inductive thematic analysis was adopted for the qualitative data. From the 306 athletes who completed the questionnaire, 65% reported social media use for nutrition purposes in the past 12 months. Social media use was predicted by both athlete status and gender. Female athletes were more likely to have used social media for nutrition purposes (odds ratio = 2.7, 95% confidence interval [1.52, 4.62], p = .001) than males. Elite athletes were less likely to have used social media for nutrition (odds ratio = 0.44, 95% confidence interval [0.24, 0.83], p = .011) than recreational athletes. Athletes commonly used social media for practical nutrition purposes, including recipes and information about restaurants/cafes. Perceived advantages of social media as a nutrition resource included ease of access, well-presented information, personal connectedness, and information richness. Athletes’ primary concern for obtaining nutrition information from social media was information unreliability.
Bourke and Braakhuis are with the Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. Baker is with High Performance Sport New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand.