Updated 26 February 2014

Junk food, fast food are part of youth sports routine

Children who play organized sports often consume unhealthy foods and beverages, a new study finds.


Children who play organised sports often consume unhealthy foods and beverages, a new study finds.

University of Minnesota researchers interviewed the parents of 60 youth basketball players and found that the youngsters commonly had sweets, such as ice cream and doughnuts; pizza; hot dogs; salty snacks, such as chips, nachos and cheese puffs; and soda and sports drinks.

The parents also reported frequent visits to fast-food restaurants when their children were playing sports.

Although the parents agreed that these foods and beverages are unhealthy, they said rushing to practises and games made them rely more on these types of products due to their convenience.

What the study showed

The researchers also found that parents had difficulty determining whether certain foods and drinks were healthy, and had doubts about whether it was feasible for concession stands at youth sports venues to offer healthy choices.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

"The food environment in youth sports exposes kids and their families to many unhealthful foods and beverages and few healthful options," principal investigator Toben Nelson said. "Youth who participate in sports spend considerable time in these activities outside of school, and these sports environments are likely to influence their eating behaviour."

The researchers suggested many ways to promote healthy eating in children who play sports, including integrating nutrition education into youth sports programmes and finding ways to improve the nutritional quality of food available at youth sports venues.

Read more:
Nutrition basics

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about feeding your child athlete.

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