Nutritional issues for young athletes: Children and adolescents

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Desbrow, Ben
Leveritt, Michael
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L. Burke and V. Deakin

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The prospect of sporting success is appealing to many young athletes and their families. Organised sport provides many benefits to young people including regular physical activity, social interaction and the development of confidence and self-­esteem. Indeed, a commitment to regular physical activity is promoted in population dietary guidelines, regardless of age. While population dietary guidelines and nutrient reference values-that is, Estimated Average Requirements (EAR)-are appropriate for addressing the micronutrient and energy requirements of children and adolescents involved in most sports, those involved in high-intensity sports training programs have higher nutrient and energy requirements. The basic principles of sports nutrition recommended to adult athletes also apply to younger athletes. Meeting higher nutrient and energy requirements during periods of rapid growth and coping with changing body composition, metabolic and hormonal fluctuations is often challenging for young athletes. Social, emotional and stage of development and maturational timing has a major influence on how individuals view themselves and their sporting achievements. Childhood and adolescence is a critical time in life to develop long-term food habits and the connections between food, exercise and body image. New practices, beliefs and meanings associated with food may be acquired during this time, such as the adoption of vegetarianism, fad diets and supplement use. To ensure that the young athlete fulfils his or her potential, eating patterns that integrate the unique requirements for sporting success and ensure healthy growth and development support need to be supported. This chapter considers how the physiological response to exercise and the nutritional requirements of children and adolescents participating in sport may differ from adult athletes. Identifying the body composition changes during growth, development and maturation is crucial to advising young athletes about expected changes in body composition, nutrient requirements and response to exercise. In this text, children refers to those aged 5-12 years, and adolescents are those aged 13-18 years, according to population categories (NHMRC 2013).

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Clinical Sports Nutrition 5th edition



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Clinical and Sports Nutrition

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