Australian athletes' health behaviours and perceptions of role modelling and marketing of unhealthy products

Anne C Grunseit*, Rona MacNiven, Rhonda Orr, Matt Grassmayr, Bridget Kelly, Daniel Davies, Stephen Colagiuri, Adrian E. Bauman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


ISSUE ADDRESSED: This study examined Australian athletes' support for athletes' role in promoting physical activity and obesity prevention, the acceptability of unhealthy products promotion in sport, and their own health behaviours.

METHODS: Surveys were conducted with (n = 1990) elite and sub-elite athletes recruited from 22 sports across Australia. Athletes' perceptions and behaviours were analysed across demographic and sport-related factors (e.g. individual vs team sport) and correlations calculated between perceptions and health behaviours.

RESULTS: Most respondents supported a role for athletes in promoting physical activity and obesity prevention, and disagreed that athletes should promote unhealthy foods and alcohol (73.9%). Athletes reported low smoking rates, but high rates of binge drinking. Female, younger, individual and amateur athletes had more health-positive perceptions and healthier behaviours than older, male, team and professional athletes. More sympathy towards junk food and alcohol advertising in sport and less support for athletes as role models were associated with more unhealthy behaviours.

CONCLUSIONS: Elite athletes are receptive to supporting health promotion through sport and many are not in agreement with the promotion of unhealthy products in sport or by sports people. Improving elite athletes' health behaviours would benefit not only the individual but also health promotion within elite sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalHealth promotion journal of Australia : official journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • nutrition
  • athletes
  • alcohol consumption
  • smoking
  • sponsorship


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