A Comprehensive Analysis of Sports Nutrition Knowledge and Diet Diversity Among South Indian Athletes


  • Sai laavanya Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, SRMIST, Kattankulathur, Chengalpattu district – 603203, India https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8294-5056
  • Silambu selvi Kumbamoorthy Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, SRMIST, Kattankulathur, Chengalpattu district – 603203, India https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3750-6991




Purpose. Athletes can benefit greatly from having knowledge about sports nutrition. However, there are limited studies on athletes' nutritional knowledge and dietary habits in South India. This study aims to assess the athletes' sports nutrition knowledge, analyse their dietary practices and attitudes, and the dietary diversity score.

Material & Methods. A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in selected areas of Chengalpattu district in Tamil Nadu. Eighty-five athletes aged 10-18 training in different sports academies were interviewed individually using a validated questionnaire to analyse their sports nutrition knowledge, attitude and dietary practices.

Results. The results showed that only 4.7% of the athletes had adequate nutritional knowledge of over 60%. The mean overall knowledge score was 40.2%, with athletes being most knowledgeable about protein and its sources (mean score of 67.9%), but less aware of carbohydrate and fat sources and recommendations (mean score of 15.08% and 14.01%, respectively). The mean score for attitude and dietary practices were 64.4 and 59.5 respectively. A strong and positive correlation was found between the level of nutritional knowledge and attitude (p=0.0001). Additionally, we found that the occupation of parents and the monthly income of the family were significantly associated with the athletes' nutritional knowledge. Majority of athletes (74.1%) of the athletes had an adequate dietary diversity score (DDS) of ≥ 5, and 25.9% of the athletes had a DDS of ≤ 4.

Conclusions. Nutritional educational interventions at the grass root level can potentially improve athletes' knowledge, dietary practices and sports performance in the future. It is crucial to identify and address knowledge gaps, and use technology to monitor and motivate athletes towards consistency in implementing their knowledge.


Çebi, M., Eliöz, M., Yamak, B., İmamoğlu, O., & Aksoy, Y. (2020). Investigation of food consumption frequency in sports faculty students: Food Consumption of Faculty Students. Progress in Nutrition, 22(2), 507-514. https://doi.org/10.23751/pn.v22i2.9253

Cherian, K.S., Gavaravarapu, S.M., Sainoji, A., & Yagnambhatt, V.R. (2020). Coaches’ perceptions about food, appetite, and nutrition of adolescent Indian athletes – A qualitative study. Heliyon, 6(2), e03354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03354

Devlin, B.L., Leveritt, M.D., Kingsley, M., & Belski, R. (2017). Dietary Intake, Body Composition, and Nutrition Knowledge of Australian Football and Soccer Players: Implications for Sports Nutrition Professionals in Practice. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 27(2), 130-138. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2016-0191

FAO (2018). Dietary assessment: A resource guide to method selection and application in low resource settings.

FAO (2021). Minimum dietary diversity for women. https://doi.org/10.4060/cb3434en

Folasire, O.F., Akomolafe, A.A., & Sanusi, R.A. (2015). Does Nutrition Knowledge and Practice of Athletes Translate to Enhanced Athletic Performance? Cross-Sectional Study Amongst Nigerian Undergraduate Athletes. Global Journal of Health Science, 7(5), p215. https://doi.org/10.5539/gjhs.v7n5p215

Islam, M.R., Rahman, S.M., Tarafder, C., Rahman, Md.M., Rahman, A., & Ekström, E.-C. (2020). Exploring Rural Adolescents’ Dietary Diversity and Its Socioeconomic Correlates: A Cross-Sectional Study from Matlab, Bangladesh. Nutrients, 12(8), 2230. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082230

Kennedy, G.L. (2009). Evaluation of dietary diversity scores for assessment of micronutrient intake and food security in developing countries. Selbstverl.

Kerksick, C.M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B.J., Stout, J.R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C.D., Taylor, L., Kalman, D., Smith-Ryan, A.E., Kreider, R.B., Willoughby, D., Arciero, P.J., VanDusseldorp, T.A., Ormsbee, M.J., Wildman, R., Greenwood, M., Ziegenfuss, T.N., Aragon, A.A., & Antonio, J. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1), 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4

Kiss, A., Soós, S., Tompa, O., Temesi, Á., & Lakner, Z. (2021). Measuring Athletes’ Perception of the Sport Nutrition Information Environment: The Adaptation and Validation of the Diet Information Overload Scale among Elite Athletes. Nutrients, 13(8), 2781. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082781

Majumder, S., Das, D., & Menon, K. (2022). Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice of Sports Nutrition among Adolescent Indian Kabaddi Players. Journal of Sports Research, 9(2), 76-85. https://doi.org/10.18488/90.v9i2.3027

Moore, A., Lambert, L., Grimm, M., & Bandy, P. (2020). Effectiveness of Sports Nutrition Education on Student-athlete Nutrition Knowledge. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120(10), A134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.065

Nazni, P., & Vimala, S. (2010). Nutrition Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of College Sportsmen. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.34866

Nor Azizam, N.S., Yusof, S.N., Amon, J.J., Ahmad, A., Safii, N.S., & Jamil, N.A. (2022). Sports Nutrition and Food Knowledge among Malaysian University Athletes. Nutrients, 14(3), 572. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030572

Roger, M.K.P., Janvier, B.E., Florent, N., François, M., Ru, W., & Peijie, C. (2023). Evaluation of sports nutrition knowledge among students Congolese sport-type courses. Journal of Sports Science and Nutrition, 4(2), 122-126. https://doi.org/10.33545/27077012.2023.v4.i2b.196

Sobana, R.M. (2016). Sports nutritional knowledge, attitude and practice of adolescent cricket players.

Solly, H., Badenhorst, C.E., McCauley, M., Slater, G.J., Gifford, J.A., Erueti, B., & Beck, K.L. (2023). Athlete Preferences for Nutrition Education: Development of and Findings from a Quantitative Survey. Nutrients, 15(11), 2519. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15112519

Tam, R., Gifford, J.A., & Beck, K.L. (2022). Recent Developments in the Assessment of Nutrition Knowledge in Athletes. Current Nutrition Reports, 11(2), 241-252. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-022-00397-1

Tamiru, D., Argaw, A., Gerbaba, M., Nigussie, A., Ayana, G., & Belachew, T. (2016). Improving dietary diversity of school adolescents through school based nutrition education and home gardening in Jimma Zone: Quasi-experimental design. Eating Behaviors, 23, 180-186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.10.009

Tanui, C., & Imungi, J.K. (2017). Association between Performance and Injury with Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status among Athletes: Case of Iten Training Camp in the Rift Valley of Kenya. IOSR Journal of Sports and Physical Education, 04(03), 62-71. https://doi.org/10.9790/6737-04036271

Tchounwou, P. (2004). Environmental Research and Public Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 1(1), 1-2. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph2004010001

Thomas, D.T., Erdman, K.A., & Burke, L.M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006

Vázquez-Espino, K., Fernández-Tena, C., Lizarraga-Dallo, M.A., & Farran-Codina, A. (2020). Development and Validation of a Short Sport Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire for Athletes. Nutrients, 12(11), 3561. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113561

Vázquez-Espino, K., Rodas-Font, G., & Farran-Codina, A. (2022). Sport Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes, Sources of Information, and Dietary Habits of Sport-Team Athletes. Nutrients, 14(7), 1345. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14071345

Zaman, Nur Najiah Zaidani Kamarun, Ayu Suzailiana Muhamad, and Mohd Rahimi Che Jusoh. “Knowledge, Attitude, Practice (KAP) and Dietary Intake of Young University Athletes Following Sports Nutrition Education”. Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, 27(2). https://doi.org/10.31246/mjn-2020-0098

Zare, M., Makhtoomi, M., Mansouri, F., Nouri, M., Sarbakhsh, P., Eftekhari, M. H., Pourghassem Gargari, B., & Shateri, Z. (2023). Diet diversity and food quality score in male football players and healthy non-athlete controls in relation to oxidative stress biomarkers: A descriptive-analytical study. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 15(1), 136. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-023-00748-7




How to Cite

Sai laavanya, & Kumbamoorthy, S. selvi. (2024). A Comprehensive Analysis of Sports Nutrition Knowledge and Diet Diversity Among South Indian Athletes. Physical Rehabilitation and Recreational Health Technologies, 9(2), 52–60. https://doi.org/10.15391/prrht.2024-9(2).02



Original research article