To evaluate the information sources that are used and preferred by Australian athletes and to assess if preferences influence nutrition knowledge (NK).
Elite and non-elite Australian team sport athletes, playing Australian football (AF), cricket, lawn bowls, soccer or hockey, were recruited via the sporting organisations' qualified sports dietitians or club presidents. Athletes completed one of two online, validated sports NK questionnaires. Frequency analysis on previous sources of advice, preferred sources of information and preferred type of support were assessed. Differences in NK scores (%) based on previous sources of dietary advice and preferences for obtaining information were assessed using t test or Mann-Whitney U test.
Demographic and information source questions were completed by 410 athletes; 331 also completed NK questions. Athletes were mostly non-elite (76%) and AF players (79%). Forty-four per cent of athletes reported having previously received advice from a dietitian. Twenty per cent, 19% and 16% of athletes chose "dietitian," "internet" and "nutritionist" as their preferred source of nutrition information, respectively. Athletes preferred information on sports nutrition (35%), individual consultations (33%), and information on general healthy eating (33%), over cooking classes (4%) and group presentations (3%). There were no significant associations between preferred and previous information sources and NK scores.
Australian athletes prefer dietitians, the internet and nutritionists for sports nutrition information. There is an interest in and need for access to a qualified sports dietitian and reputable internet-based nutrition information. Education programs and advice given to athletes need to be evaluated.