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Nutritional considerations for the overweight young athlete have not been thoroughly discussed in the scientific literature. With the high prevalence of childhood obesity, more children participating in sports are overweight or obese. This is particularly true for select sports, such as American football, where large size provides an added advantage. While sport participation should be encouraged because of the many benefits of physical activity, appropriate nutritional practices are vital for growth, and optimizing performance and health. The overweight young athlete may face certain challenges because of variable energy costs and nutrient requirements for growth and routine training, compared with nonoverweight athletes. Special attention should be given to adopting healthy lifestyle choices to prevent adverse health effects due to increased adiposity. In this review, we aim to discuss special nutritional considerations and highlight gaps in the literature concerning nutrition for overweight young athletes compared with their nonoverweight peers.
Chu is with the Medical Sciences Program, and Timmons the Dept. of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.