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.
Fiona E. Pelly and Sarah J. Burkhart
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.
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.