The Effects of Nutrition and Energy Availability Information on the Knowledge and Eating Attitudes of NCAA Division III Student-Athletes

Decreased energy intake with or without disordered eating is one condition of the female athlete triad, a metabolic disease that also includes menstrual abnormalities and low bone mineral density. This condition has been linked to an increased risk of stress fractures, along with many other physiological impairments. A more recent phenomenon has been seen in Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-s); this syndrome refers to impaired physiological functioning in many major organ systems of the body caused by relative energy deficiency. Both diseases are related and maintain one independent variable that can lead to physiological dysfunction: decreased energy intake with or without disordered eating. The prevalence of eating disorders in the athletic population is also suspected to be higher than in the general population. Emphasis on nutritional education and information on the diseases available to athletes could prevent further physiological impairments. Athlete knowledge on nutrition and physiological impairments due to decreased energy intake is questionable. The majority of studies relating to the prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors are largely conducted with elite athletes at the highest collegiate level, National level, or Olympic level of competition. While NCAA Division III athletes are not considered the most competitive in terms of ability and may practice less than athletes at the higher divisions, these athletes are more active than the general population within their age group due to practice and training schedules.
The purpose of this study is to investigate if education on nutrition specific to NCAA Division III athletes, as well as information about the female athlete triad and RED-s, will decrease incidents of disordered eating behaviors and increase proper energy intake for this athletic population. This research is guided by the following question: How would education focused on nutrition for athletes, female athlete triad, and RED-s affect incidents of disordered eating behaviors and energy intake levels in NCAA Division III athletes?


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