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  • Author: Colleen McConnell x
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Colleen McConnell, Alyssa McPherson and Kathleen Woolf

Marching artists are a unique group of athletes whose performance can be influenced by nutrition. Because physical demands are thought to be moderate to high, adequate energy and a variety of nutrient-dense foods are needed. The purpose of this study was to examine diet quality, physical activity, and eating behavior of marching artists across elite and nonelite competition levels. This cross-sectional analysis used the validated National Cancer Institute Diet History Questionnaire II, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and Eating Behavior Patterns Questionnaire. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010. Marching artists who participated in marching band in 2015 were eligible. Those in Drum Corps International (DCI) were considered part of the elite level; all others were considered nonelite. Chi-square analyses assessed associations between categorical variables and competition level, and independent sample t-tests assessed differences between continuous variables among competition level. Participants (n = 323) included 228 (71%) DCI members and 95 (29%) non-DCI members who reported a mean age of 19.8 ± 1.9 years. DCI members reported higher physical activity levels (p < 0.001) and fewer meal-skipping behaviors compared to non-DCI members (p < 0.001). The overall mean HEI score was 58.8 ± 10.3, with no difference between competition levels. Only one participant overall (<1%) met the recommended intake level of whole grains. Additionally, 2% of participants met the sodium restriction recommendation and 7% met the empty calorie upper limit. Suboptimal diet quality combined with high levels of physical activity is a problem for marching artists that should be addressed through carefully planned interventions.