2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: Nutritional deficiencies are a major concern for today’s female athlete, especially those who are in or have just entered high school. Changing bodies and higher physical demands puts these girls at risk for disordered eating and inadequate dietary intake. Research has shown that high school female athletes are notorious for poor dietary habits that fail to support their active life style and physical demand on their bodies.
Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the dietary habits of high school female basketball players and how its correlation to game-time performance.
Subjects and Methods: The relationship between high school female athletes and dietary habits was investigated in 68 female basketball players in the Central Kentucky area, ranging in age from 11-18 years old. The height of the participants ranged from 5’0” to 6’0” (mean = 5’6.5”) with an average body mass index (BMI) of 20.22 +/- 3.2 kg/m2. The subjects were surveyed on dietary habits including a description of a typical pre-game meal and fluid consumption.
Results: 68% of the participants reported consuming some type of protein and 84% reported eating carbohydrates before a basketball game. In addition, 29% reported eating fruit, 9% vegetables, 9% some sort of dairy. Only 15% admitted to eating some type of fast food or high-fat processed food while 12% reported eating chips and 15% ate cookies or candy. Participants who played more than 10 minutes per game consumed more protein, fruit, and dairy, equal amounts of carbohydrates and vegetables, and less fast food, chips, and cookies/candy as compared to those receiving less playing time.
Conclusion: Eating a healthy pre-game meal and consuming adequate fluids is correlated with game-time performance, and thus the amount of playing time rewarded. Though this data shows that the girls who play more make better dietary choices, there were still high percentages of ‘bad foods’ being consumed before a game. It is important for athletes, coaches and parents to be aware of how a pre-game meal affects the body during competition and how the meal can ultimately affect performance and the body’s ability to repair itself and develop normally.