Are exercise professionals fit to provide nutrition advice? An evaluation of general nutrition knowledge

Mark McKean, Lachlan Mitchell*, Helen O'Connor, Tania Prvan, Gary Slater

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: Registered exercise professionals (REP) are trained to provide structured exercise recommendations and general nutrition advice to healthy clients. However REP provide specific nutrition advice beyond their scope of practice, including diet-disease advice. The present study aims to investigate the level of general nutrition knowledge of REP, and compare this to a sample of community members (CTM), and university trained dietitians (DN). Design: Age-matched REP, CTM and DN were recruited to complete the previously validated revised-general nutrition knowledge questionnaire. Methods: Total nutrition knowledge score and section scores were compared between REP, CTM and DN. The impact of sex, age, level of education, and years’ experience on nutrition knowledge was investigated. Results: A total of 554 participants completed the questionnaire (REP, n = 161; CTM, n = 357; DN, n = 36). The DN group performed significantly better overall (DN, 91.2 ± 4.6; REP, 78.4 ± 9.6; CTM, 75.4 ± 11.3) and for knowledge of dietary guidelines (DN, 82.3 ± 20.7; REP, 80.5 ± 15.5; CTM, 80.0 ± 14.1), nutrient content of foods (DN, 92.6 ± 4.4; REP, 80.9 ± 9.9; CTM, 75.7 ± 12.0), and diet-disease relationships (DN, 91.4 ± 9.7; REP, 65.4 ± 18.0; CTM, 68.6 ± 11.1) compared to the REP and CTM groups (p < 0.001). Sex, education and age were all significant predictors of total nutrition knowledge (p < 0.0005). Conclusions: Total nutrition knowledge and knowledge of diet-disease relationships is limited in REP. Encouraging REP to work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team, including DN, will assist in providing optimal client care in achieving health and body composition related goals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)264-268
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


    • Diet-disease relationship
    • Exercise professionals
    • Nutrition knowledge
    • Scope of practice


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