Nutrition Knowledge and Dietary Composition in Italian Adolescent Female Athletes and Non-athletes

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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This study aims to investigate dietary composition and nutrition knowledge of 60 athlete and 59 non-athlete adolescent females (age, 14-18 years), using a 3-day food recall and a questionnaire on nutrition. The reported daily energy intake was similar in athletes and non-athletes, but less than the recommended and the estimated requirements. In the athletes, the energy supply from breakfast was higher than in the non-athletes (18.5 ± 6.6 vs. 15.0 ± 8.2%, p < .005). Energy intake from carbohydrates was higher (53.6 ± 6.2 vs. 49.8 ± 63%, p < .05) and that from lipids was lower (30.4 ± 5.5 vs. 34.2 ± 5.2%, p < .001) in athletes than in non-athletes. Athletes also showed higher fiber (20.0 ± 5.8 vs. 14.1 ± 4.3 g/day, p < .001). iron (10.6±5.1 vs. 7.5 ± 2.1 mg/day,/7 < .001) and vitamin A (804 ± 500 vs, 612 ± 456 μg/day, p < .05) reported intake than non-athletes. Calcium, iron, and zinc intake were less than 100% RDA in both groups. Athletes gave a slightly higher rate of correct answers on the nutrition knowledge questionnaire (77.6 vs. 71.6%,p < .01) than non-athletes. In conclusion, the overall recalled dietary intake and nutrition knowledge of the studied adolescent females show some misconceptions and nutrient deficiencies, but the results in athletes are quite better man in non-athletes, suggesting a favorable role of sport practice on dietary habits and nutrition knowledge.

The authors are with the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa. Italy.