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J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 May 19;14:13. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0170-2. eCollection 2017.

Nutrition practices and knowledge among NCAA Division III football players.

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Whitworth University, 300 W. Hawthorne Rd., Spokane, WA 99251 USA.



Participation in collegiate American football is physically demanding and may have long-term health implications, particularly in relation to cardiovascular and neurological health. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III (DIII) football players are a relatively unstudied population, particularly in terms of their dietary habits and knowledge. The aim of the present study was to descriptively evaluate the dietary intake of DIII football players including a subset of linemen and assess the nutritional knowledge and sources of information of these athletes.


The study sample was 88 DIII football players including a subset of nine linemen. All participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, and a nutritional knowledge questionnaire that included a quiz and questions about their main sources of nutrition information. Heights and body masses were also recorded. The linemen submitted written 3-day diet records for assessment of their dietary intake.


Of the 88 participants, >50% reported consuming starches/grains, meat and dairy daily, but <50% reported consuming fruits and vegetables daily. Protein powders were the most commonly used supplements (33% reported daily use). Compared to dietary recommendations, linemen consumed high amounts of total fat, saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, sodium, and potassium, but were low in carbohydrates, fiber, and essential fats. The mean nutrition knowledge quiz score for the 88 participants was 55.2%. Those who had taken a nutrition or health course in college scored significantly higher on the quiz than those who had not. Participants reported relying primarily on coaches, websites, and athletic trainers (ATs) for nutritional guidance; ATs were the most trusted source.


DIII football players had dietary habits that may both mitigate and increase their risk of chronic diseases. These athletes have room to improve their nutrition knowledge. Their reliance on athletic team staff for nutrition guidance highlights the importance of nutrition education for both athletes and staff and the potential role of a registered dietitian nutritionist.


Dietary recommendation; Football linemen; Nutrition source; Registered dietitian nutritionist

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