Young Adult Exercisers and Nonexercisers Differ in Food Attitudes, Perceived Dietary Changes, and Food Choices

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Health experts recommend merging a healthy diet and adequate physical activity into one behavior. This study compared attitudes about foods, recent dietary changes, and food choices of 319 18- to 24-year-olds, who defined themselves as exercisers or nonexercisers. Subjects were recruited by telephone and were mailed questionnaires that asked about factors influencing food selection and changes in intake of high-fat foods. Exercisers considered it more important to eat nutritious foods; ate more nutrient-dense, low-fat foods; and more frequently met the Food Guide Pyramid recommended grain and fruit intakes than nonexercisers. Female exercisers more often perceived foods high in calcium to be fattening and not healthful, and they reported decreasing their intake of high-fat foods more than did female nonexercisers. Some merging of healthy diet and exercise behavior is evident among the young adult exercisers in this study. Nutrition and exercise messages targeted to young women should emphasize low-calorie calcium sources.

C. Georgiou and T. Hoos are with the Department of Nutrition and Food Management, Milam 108, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5103. N. Betts and M. Glenn are with the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0806.