Nutrition Knowledge and Food Choice in Young Athletes(In Press)

Pediatrics Research International Journal

Download PDF

Juliane Heydenreich1,2, Anja Carlsohn1,3 and  Frank Mayer1 

1University Outpatient Clinic Potsdam, Sports Medicine and Sports Orthopaedics, University of Potsdam, Germany

2 Swiss Federal Insitute of Sport Magglingen SFISM, Magglingen, Switzerland

3 Institute of Health Science, University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany

Volume 2014( 2014), Article ID 974700, Pediatrics Research International Journal, 12 pages, DOI:

Received date : 30 July 2014; Accepted date : 30 October 2014; Published date : 18 November 2014

Academic editor: Katharina Diehl


For young athletes, an optimized diet is important for growth, health and athletic performance. Data about nutrition knowledge, nutrient intake and food choice in athletes are rare. Aim of the study was to analyze nutrition knowledge and food choice of young athletes. 559 young athletes (59% male; 11.7±0.8 years; 18.4±2.5 kg/m2 ) were included in the study. Food choice was assessed by a standardized Food-Frequency-Questionnaire and Healthy-Eating-Index (maximum 50 points, HEImax). Nutrition knowledge was checked using a nutrition knowledge questionnaire (NKQ; 12 items, maximum 24 points). For a better overview, total NKQ-score was divided into 6 categories according to the German school grading system. All results are presented as mean±standard deviation. Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA by ranks were used, respectively, to check for differences between gender and sports discipline. Relationship between total NKQ- and HEI-score was assessed with Pearson´s correlation coefficient (α=0.05). Young athletes reached 35±10 points (70±18% HEImax) in food choice and 9±3 points (37±12% of the maximum score) in NKQ. There were no statistically significant gender differences in NKQ- (p=0.21) or HEI-score (p=0.48), respectively. NKQ-score showed that intake of vegetables and fruits was significantly affected by sports discipline (p<0.05). Intake of dairy product was higher in males than in females (p=0.02). No correlation between NKQ-score and HEI-score was observed (rp=0.03, 95% CI [-0.17, 0.39], p=0.45). In conclusion, both nutrition knowledge and food choice is insufficient in young athletes. Focus should be set on nutrition education programs to improve nutrition knowledge and food choice of athletes.

Keywords: adolescent athletes, Healthy Eating Index, nutrient intake, nutrition questionnaire