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Publication

Children appear to influence TA eating habits, especially dietary quality

Sampson, AnnaBeth
Sanchez Gonzalez, Pamela
Tuttle, Brooke
Abstract

Background: Chronic diseases occur at higher rates among tactical athletes (TAs) than US averages. Chronic disease prevalence continues to rise despite existing nutrition interventions. Children have emerged as a possible influence on TA nutrition. Civilian studies reveal a bidirectional relationship such that parents and children influence one another’s eating habits. Because TAs have a rigorous schedule, it is suspected that they cater to children’s food preferences as compensation. Thus, the purpose was to determine whether children act as gatekeepers to TA eating habits and nutrition.


Methods: This cross-sectional study included an online survey completed by a convenience sample of TAs and significant others. Survey questions included demographics, employment status, relationship and child information, family dynamics, type of TA, perceived nutrition knowledge and attitudes, family eating patterns and child influence, and dietary quality (mini-EAT score) of themselves and their child. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, t-test, ANOVA, and Pearson correlations.


Results: Total healthy eating readiness score was moderately and negatively associated with number of driving children (r=-0.34). TA mini-EAT total score was moderately and negatively associated with number of children (r=-0.38), perceived level of limited variety in food because of the child (r=-0.33), and perceived limit of healthy food consumption because of child (r=-0.46). TA mini-EAT total score was moderately and positively associated with child mini-EAT total score (r=0.50). Child total mini-EAT average score was 30.8/72±5.9 per significant other and 29.6±7.1 per TA. TA total mini-EAT average score was 32.0±6.6.


Conclusions: Children influence TA eating habits and dietary quality. Thus, practitioners should not ignore the family and consider improving children’s nutrition as a means of improving TA eating habits and dietary quality.

Date
2024