This study aimed to develop and refine an Athlete Food Choice Questionnaire (AFCQ) to determine the key factors influencing food choice in an international cohort of athletes. A questionnaire that contained 84 items on a 5-point frequency scale was developed for this study. Athletes at the 2017 Universiade, in Taiwan, were invited to participate. Principal component analysis was utilized to identify key factors and to refine the questionnaire. Completed questionnaires were received from 156 athletes from 31 countries and 17 sports. The principal component analysis extracted 36 items organized into nine factors explaining 68.0% of variation. The nine factors were as follows: nutritional attributes of the food, emotional influences, food and health awareness, influence of others, usual eating practices, weight control, food values and beliefs, sensory appeal, and performance. The overall Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin measure was 0.75, the Bartlett test of sphericity was statistically significant, χ2(666) =2,536.50, p < .001, and all of the communalities remained >0.5. Intercorrelations were detected between performance and both nutritional attributes of the food and weight control. The price of food, convenience, and situational influences did not form part of the factorial structure. This research resulted in an AFCQ that includes factors specific to athletic performance and the sporting environment. The AFCQ will enable researchers and sports dietitians to better tailor nutrition education and dietary interventions to suit the individual or team. The next phase will test the accuracy and reliability of the AFCQ both during and outside of competition. The AFCQ is a useful tool to assist with management of performance nutrition for athletes.
The authors are with the School of Health and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia.