Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Science
Objectives : National surveys found that adolescents in America often fail to meet dietary recommendations probably due to lack of nutrition knowledge, giving rise to chronic diseases such as obesity, coronary heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. Knowledge about sports nutrition is considered essential for adolescent athletes to have healthy eating habits. It would help maximize their performance. The aim of the study was to assess the nutrition knowledge of adolescent soccer players pre and post a nutrition education intervention.
Methods : A study was conducted on the youth academy level soccer players (n=21) from three age groups (U19, U17, U15), to determine their nutrition knowledge using a validated Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire.From the completed questionnaire, on factors like energy refueling, hydration, supplements and protein, a knowledge score was calculated for each athlete ranging from 0 (0%) to 16 (100%). The players participated in a nutrition education intervention for 5 months, consisting of monthly nutritional education newsletters, electronic handouts and one-hour nutrition lesson in the form of jeopardy game and nutrition education workshop for the players and their parents. Following the intervention, they filled out the same questionnaire again.
Results : From their responses, pre- and post-intervention, we found that at baseline, nutrition knowledge was highest in the U19 team as 44% of the responses were correct, lesser for the U17 team (25%) and least for the U15 team (6%). However, the intervention only produced a 6% increase in nutrition knowledge in the U19 while the intervention produced a 19% increase in the U17 team and a 44% increase in the U15 team. There was significant improvement in the category under supplements which asked whether it was better to get vitamins and minerals from supplements than from foods (p=0.002). There was no significant difference in improvement of protein knowledge after the intervention in any group.
Conclusions : The study shows that the nutrition education intervention was most effective for the younger players. Overall, more nutrition education, especially in the area of proteins, would be required for these players to increase their nutrition knowledge so that they know the type of food they should select and understand the importance of healthy eating.
Funding Sources : No funding required from any organisation.