2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
In recent years, the United States has seen a tremendous growth in the number of female athletes. When Title IX was introduced in 1972, approximately 300,000 girls participated in high school sports. This number has since increased to 3 million athletes. Due to the increasing number of participants and the increasing intensity and competiveness of female sports, injuries are much more common in these athletes. This research examined the diets of female collegiate athletes to determine if there is a relationship between nutrient intake and risk of injury. The relationship was investigated in 34 female University of Kentucky collegiate athletes, ranging in age from 17 to 23 years old. The height of the participants ranged from 5'2" to 6'4" (mean = 5'9") with an average body mass index (BMI) of 22.02 ± 1.6 . Participants came from a variety of sports, including volleyball (8), basketball (4), track and field (5), gymnastics (3), golf (2), soccer (5), tennis (3), and swimming (4). Of the thirty four participants, 71% had experienced a sports related injury. The most common injuries were broken bones, sprains, and stress fractures. When in regular season, on average, athletes trained for 3.75 ± 1.67 hours per day. When not in regular season, on average, athletes trained for 3.70 ± 1.25 hours per day. The athletes consumed approximately 1900 ± 410 calories per day. Participants consumed approximately 5.88 ounces of grains per day. Of those, 4 ounces were whole grains. Athletes consumed approximately 3.7 servings of vegetables and 3.8 servings of fruits per day. Also, subjects consumed approximately 4.8 ounces of meat and beans per day. Lastly, athletes consumed approximately 3.1 servings of dairy foods per day. Based on this data, the under consumption of calories and grains can potentially be attributed to the high risk of injury among these female collegiate athletes. Good eating habits can be an effective part of injury prevention strategies. A properly nourished body is more likely to be able to withstand the rigorous demands that are put on collegiate athletes.