Food provision at the Olympic Games has evolved considerably since the advent of a unified menu, but there are challenges in existing catering for the expanding cultural and sporting diversity. Continuity between events is difficult due to the changes in location, organizing committees, caterers, athletes, support staff, and volunteers. Independent review of the food provision by sports nutrition experts has been implemented to help establish some consistency between Olympic Games. The aim of this study was to compare an expert desk top and onsite review of the food provided at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and compare this with a similar review at the London 2012 Olympic Games. A previously developed survey was completed by sports nutrition experts 6 months prior to the opening of the Rio 2016 Olympic village and during the Olympic Games in September 2016. Questions about the food provision included both scaled and open-ended responses. There was a significantly lower rating for menu variety onsite (p = .025) versus the desk top review. All aspects of the menu and the ability to cater for specific situations rated as average or less. A significantly (p = .007) lower overall median rating was obtained for Rio (five out of 10) compared with London (eight out of 10), with hot gluten-free items rated as poor at both events. Comments from experts related to lack of variety, sports and recovery foods, absence of signage, and inaccurate nutrition labeling. An improved process for expert nutrition review at these events is warranted.
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Fiona Pelly and Susie Parker Simmons
Fiona E. Pelly and Sarah J. Burkhart
The aim of this study was to investigate the dietary regimens reported by athletes competing at a major international competition and report whether these were based on nutrient composition, religious beliefs, cultural eating style, food intolerance or avoidance of certain ingredients. A questionnaire was randomly distributed to 351 athletes in the main dining hall of the athletes’ village over the three main meal periods during the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games (23rd Sept—14th Oct, 2010). The majority (n = 218, 62%) of athletes reported following one or more dietary regimens, with 50% (n = 174) following a diet based on the nutrient composition of the food. Significantly more athletes from weight category and aesthetic sports (28%, p = .005) and from power/sprint sports (41%, p = .004) followed low fat and high protein regimens respectively. Other specialized dietary regimens were followed by 33% of participants, with avoidance of red meat (13%), vegetarian (7%), Halal (6%), and low lactose regimens (5%) reported most frequently. Significantly more athletes from non-Western regions followed a vegetarian diet (p < .001), while more vegetarians reported avoiding additives (p = .013) and wheat (p ≤ .001). A Western style of eating was the most commonly reported cultural regimen (72% of total with 23% from non-Western regions). Those following a Western diet were significantly more likely to report following a regimen based on nutrient composition (p = .02). As a high proportion of athletes from differing countries and sports follow specialized dietary regimens, caterers and organizers should ensure that adequate nutrition support and food items are available at similar events.
Rachael L. Thurecht and Fiona E. Pelly
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.
Sarah J. Burkhart and Fiona E. Pelly
The aim of this study was to investigate whether athletes’ opinion of food provision in the main dining hall of the athletes’ village at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games varied according to cultural background, sport, stage of competition, and previous experience at similar events. A previously developed questionnaire was distributed over 3 meal periods to 351 athletes dining in the main dining hall during the course of the games (Sept. 23 to Oct. 4, 2010). Despite the challenges of food provision in a non-Western region, the availability of food and beverage items was rated highly. However, athletes from Western regions tended to rate food provision qualities lower than athletes from non-Western regions. Most athletes found it easy to find items to meet their nutrition needs; however, requests for sports foods, snacks, and culturally specific items were received. Power/sprint athletes were more critical of the food provision, whereas athletes from aesthetic sports tended to rate it more highly. Athletes farther from competition gave higher ratings for taste, while athletes who had more experience in this type of environment also tended to be more critical of the food provision. Overall daily mean opinion scores for taste and menu variety decreased over the games period. The results of this study can help organizers and caterers ensure that appropriate food and beverage are provided for athletes at major competition events.
Bronwen Lundy, Helen O’Connor, Fiona Pelly, and Ian Caterson
This study aimed to describe the physique characteristics and competition nutrient intake of professional Rugby League players and to assess use of a statistical technique for evaluating validity of dietary reporting. Players (n = 74) were endomorphic mesomorphs and had a mean weight, height, and BMI of 93.4 ± 10.9 kg, 179.9 ± 7.3 cm, and 28.5 ± 2.1 kg/m2 respectively. Mean sum of eight skinfolds was 78.9 ± 2.2 mm (12.4 ± 2.9% fat). Players (n = 34) reported a mean daily energy intake of 17,708 ± 3,688 kJ (carbohydrate 51%, protein 18%, fat 25%, alcohol 4%) with 6 and 2.0 g · kg−1 · d−1 from carbohydrate and protein respectively. Micronutrient intake was adequate but alcohol consumption was high relative to health standards. The dietary records provided a plausible estimate of energy intake however further research is required to evaluate statistical techniques for assessing dietary validity in athlete groups.
Fiona Pelly, Helen O’Connor, Gareth Denyer, and Ian Caterson
This article describes the development, analysis, and implementation of the menu available to athletes and patrons in the main dining hall of the Athletes Village at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the significant role of sports dietitians in this process. Menu design and development was informed by focus groups, literature reviews, and food-preference surveys of athletes. The final menu was also assessed by an expert panel of Australian sports dietitians. A custom-designed database (Foodweb) was developed to enable dietary analysis of food-production data and creation of point-of-choice nutrition labels. Dietitians assisted with quality assurance testing and training of catering staff. Athletes surveyed in the main dining hall (N = 414) agreed that the menu contained sufficient variety and adequate meat, pasta/rice, vegetable/salad, fruit, and snack items. Sports dietitians played a significant role in ensuring that the menu met the needs of athletes from a range of differing cultural and sporting backgrounds. Dining-hall patrons provided positive feedback and few complaints about the overall dining experience. The information presented in this report can help future caterers and dietitians with the planning and provision of suitable food for athletic performance at an Olympic Games.
Fiona Pelly, Nanna L. Meyer, Jeni Pearce, Sarah J. Burkhart, and Louise M. Burke
The aim of this study was to evaluate the food provision and nutrition support at the London 2012 Olympic (OG) and Paralympic Games (PG) from the perspective of sports nutrition experts attending the event. Participants (n = 15) were asked to complete an online survey and rate on a Likert scale menu qualities, food safety, sustainability practices, nutrition labeling, and provision for cultural needs, dietary regimes and specific situations. Open-ended responses were incorporated to explore expert opinion and areas for improvement. Participants rated their overall experience of the food provision as 7.6 out of 10 (range 5 to 10), with the majority (n = 11) rating it greater than 7. The variety, accessibility, presentation, temperature, and freshness of menu items rated as average to good. A below average rating was received for recovery food and beverages, provision of food for traveling to other venues, taking suitable snacks out of the dining hall and provision of food at other venues. However, the variety and accessibility of choices for Ramadan, and provision of postcompetition food were rated highly. A number of comments were received about the lack of gluten free and lower energy/fat items. The inclusion of allergens on nutrition labeling was considered more important than nutrient content. While dietetic review of the menu in advance of the OG and PG is clearly a valuable process that has resulted in improvements in the food supply, there are still areas that need to be addressed that are currently not implemented during the event.