Children who play organized sports are often faced with unhealthy foods and beverages as part of the lifestyle, a new study finds.
Parents of 60 youth basketball players were interviewed by researchers from the University of Minnesota on what kind of food their children are exposed to while playing sports. The researchers found the kids were commonly introduced to a variety of sweets including candy, ice cream, sodas and sports drinks. The children also commonly ate salty, high fat snacks such as pizza, chips and nachos.
It was also found from the parents that they often took their children to fast-food restaurants when the kids were playing sports.
Even though the parents acknowledged that kind of food and beverage were not healthy choices, they also expressed how challenging it was to fit a healthy meal into their already super busy day. They admitted the unhealthy food was just simply much more convenient.
The research also discovered parents had a difficult time determining which food and drinks were healthy and which ones weren’t.
The study, published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Nutritional Education and Behavior, also showed parents didn’t think it was feasible for healthy food options to be available at concession stands where youth sporting events were held.
“The food environment in youth sports exposes kids and their families to many unhealthful foods and beverages and few healthful options,” principal investigator Toben Nelson said in a journal news release. “Youth who participate in sports spend considerable time in these activities outside of school, and these sports environments are likely to influence their eating behavior.”
The researchers developed several ideas on how to promote a healthier eating habit in children who played sports, including integrating nutrition education into youth sports programs and finding ways to improve the nutritional quality of food available at venues where youth sporting events are held.