Date of Award

Spring 2017


Capstone - Open Access


Health and Wellness Management

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Sarah Benes


Context: The sports nutrition field is experiencing incredible growth and development. Athletes are often epitomized for optimal health yet are susceptible to many nutrition related risks that can have a profound impact on both positive and negative performance gains. The student-athlete population is of particular interest based on their nutrition knowledge and where information is obtained. Little is known about their perception on nutrition overall. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine student-athlete perceptions of nutrition and their attitudes about how nutrition impacts performance. Design: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were facilitated with the study population. Participants: A total of 10 Division II student-athletes enrolled in this study. Data Analysis: Data was analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Credibility was established through member checks and written notes served as triangulation. Results: Several themes and subthemes emerged from the data. Accessibility, knowledge, time and physical feelings all tie into how student-athletes perceive the nutritional impact on performance and were the primary themes. The subthemes, which further broke down the student-athlete perspectives and perceptions on how nutrition can impact performance, included the traveling, costs and resources in relation to accessibility, understanding versus utilization of nutritional knowledge and the performance or hunger effects students attribute to the physical feelings of nutrition. Conclusions: Student-Athletes believe nutrition is important for their overall health and wellbeing. They perceive that it has the potential to positively or negatively impact performance. However they do not always have the resources or knowledge necessary to consume nutrition properly balanced to improve performance, therefore additional nutritional education is recommended.