Exercise and Nutrition Sciences graduates Samantha Partida (’18) and Philip Sapp ('17) collaborated on research projects involving students at Lipscomb Academy that were accepted at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Boston in June.
Partida’s interest in sports nutrition led her to question the nutrition knowledge and habits of students. Digging deeper, she realized she needed to be asking those questions of middle- and high-schoolers. In a partnership with Lipscomb Academy, Samantha began a project to find out more about what academy students know about nutrition, and how they currently eat.
Parents consented, students assented and the questions began: demographic questions, knowledge questions, behavior questions and attitude questions, mostly using an electronic tool known as Kahoot!, which collected all the data as the students answered the questions.
She met with Ernie Smith's high school health classes and to Daree Merritt and Andrew Greer's middle school physical education classes.
As she went, Samantha measured heights and weights and taught the students about nutrition for activity, whether sports or recreation. She hung educational posters in the bathrooms about hydration and gauged their effectiveness. She posted infographics on Twitter and Instagram using the university's @fueltheherd account.
Samantha used the information she collected to write her master’s thesis and she presented research posters at both the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition meeting in Denver in May and the ASN meeting.
Sapp used the height and weight data Partida collected to calculate BMIs on the students who participated. He presented a poster at the ASN meeting comparing Lipscomb Academy students to other middle Tennessee students via the BMI data from the Coordinated School Health program in public schools.
Partida found that students don't know enough about nutrition, and what they do know does not always translate into behaviors that support performance in either sport or recreation. Sapp found that students at the academy don't look different from public school students, from a BMI standpoint.
Partida is now is a sports nutrition intern with the North Carolina State University Wolfpack this year, and Saap is entering a doctoral program in nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, under the direction of Penny Kris-Etherton, known for the National Cholesterol Treatment Program.