Very little is known about the energy needs of young athletes. Recent studies using the doubly labeled water method have shown that the recommended dietary allowances for energy may be too high for normally active children and adolescents living in affluent societies. No studies of energy balance in young athletes have been published. Self-report dietary records of young athletes indicate that energy, carbohydrate, and select micronutrient intakes of certain athletic groups and individual athletes may be marginal or inadequate. Potential consequences of inadequate energy and nutrient intakes in young athletes include poor bone health, fatigue, limited recovery from injuries, menstrual dysfunction in female athletes, and poor performance. Studies of energy balance and nutrient status in young athletes are needed to better understand the nutritional needs of this group.
Janice Thompson is with the Department of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001.