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Diet Quality, Carotenoid Status, and Body Composition in NCAA Division I Athletes

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Objectives: In this paper, we examined diet quality and associations between changes in skin carotenoids and body composition among selected NCAA Division I athletes. Methods: Athletes from women's (rowing, swimming, gymnastics) and men's (swimming, wrestling) teams at a large Midwest university (N = 129) completed one online food frequency questionnaire and 2 in-person visits, once in-season and once out-of-season, to assess skin carotenoids and body composition. Diet quality was assessed via Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI). Carotenoids were measured via resonance Raman spectroscopy and body composition via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. ANOVA and Pearson correlations were used to test differences between teams and determine association between changes from in-season to out-of-season. Results: Mean HEI score for all athletes was 71.0. Women's rowing reported the highest diet quality (73.5), men's wrestling lowest (56.5). Skin carotenoids decreased for all teams, except men's wrestling, from in-season to out-of-season. Body fat percentage increased for women and decreased for men. There was a moderate inverse association between changes in skin carotenoids and body fat percentage (r = -.334, p = .001). Conclusions: Suboptimal diet quality coupled with decreases in skin carotenoids and increases in body fat percentage from in-season to out-of-season may justify dietitian-led interventions year-round to improve dietary patterns in collegiate athletes.
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Keywords: BIOMARKERS; DIETARY PATTERN; HEALTHY EATING INDEX; REGISTERED DIETITIAN; SPORTS NUTRITION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Nicole Jontony, Sports Dietitian, The Ohio State University, Department of Athletics, Columbus, OH 2: Emily B. Hill, Graduate Fellow, The Ohio State University, Division of Medical Dietetics and Health Sciences, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Columbus, OH 3: Christopher A. Taylor, Professor, The Ohio State University, Division of Medical Dietetics and Health Sciences, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Columbus, OH 4: Laura C. Boucher, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, Division of Athletic Training, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Columbus, OH 5: Vince O'Brien, Athletic Trainer, The Ohio State University, Department of Sports Medicine, Columbus, OH 6: Rick Weiss, President, Founder, and Chief Wellness Engineer, Viocare, Inc., Princeton, NJ 7: Colleen K. Spees, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University, Division of Medical Dietetics and Health Sciences, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Columbus, OH;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

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