Eating attitudes and behaviours in elite Canadian athletes with a spinal cord injury

Eat Behav. 2012 Jan;13(1):36-41. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.11.005. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Athletes with a spinal cord injury (SCI) appear to have relatively modest energy requirements despite demanding training regimes. Virtually nothing is known about the factors which influence the energy intake of those with a SCI including food related attitudes and behaviours. Using a cross-sectional observational design, three aspects of eating attitudes were measured using the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) along with six days of self-reported dietary intake and anthropometrics. Between March 2007 and May 2009, a total of 32 Canadian athletes with a SCI (n=24 men, n=8 women) completed the study. The TFEQ scales showed a cognitive dietary restraint score of 10.8±4.7, disinhibition score of 2.8±1.8 and hunger score of 3.1±2.2. When the group was split into high and low restraint groups using a median of 11.5, no differences were detected in any of the absolute parameters of reported dietary intake although the higher restraint group had protein intakes account for a greater proportion of total energy. Those with higher restraint scores also had a relatively higher disinhibition score. While the cognitive dietary restraint scores for the women were similar to other able-bodied populations, the scores for men were higher than population norms from other studies. The scores for disinhibition and hunger were lower than reported ranges from able-bodied subjects. These athletes may be actively monitoring or limiting dietary intake to avoid the high prevalence of obesity associated with a SCI or perhaps to maintain an ideal body composition for their sport performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Composition
  • Canada
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Disabled Persons
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology