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9 Dietary practices of physically active 9–12-year old children, physical activity and nutritional knowledge of their parents
  1. EC Wauchope
  1. Department of Sociology (Sport and Exercise Sciences), Durham University, UK


Healthy eating through a balanced diet is fundamental to good health. Active children are of interest given the energy demands of preparing for athletic performance or competition alongside normal growth and development. There is minimal research into the requirements of preadolescent athletes. It is unknown whether findings and recommendations in adult athletes can be extrapolated to their junior counterparts. Active 9–12 year old children (n=18) from the North East of England completed three-day estimated weight food diaries, like the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2016). Secondary outcomes determined self-reported physical activity level using the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Children, and parental scores of the General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire. Daily averages of energy, fibre, macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) and key micronutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, calcium and sodium) were analysed using McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods (2015). To contextualise the nutrition findings, data were compared to national recommendations and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2016). Energy intake (7.2 MJ/day) was higher than for children nationally but lower than recommended. This was principally driven by low intake of carbohydrates (234 g/day) and fat (62 g/day). Intake of protein was comparatively high (69 g/day) and total fibre (9 g/day) low. Intake of Vitamin C (112 mg/day), iron (13 mg/day) and calcium (732 mg/day) was sufficient and Vitamin D (2.5 µg/day) low. Secondary outcomes analysed associations between daily nutritional values and child physical activity and parent nutritional knowledge scores using the Pearson correlation co-efficient. There were no relationships (p>0.05) between energy intake and either of these variables. Findings suggested that active 9–12 year old children consume more energy than indicated by UK datasets, but consume less energy than national recommendations for gender and age. Principally this was driven by low intake of carbohydrate and fat. No significant relationships were apparent between energy intake and physical activity level, or energy intake and parent nutrition knowledge score. These findings are important to better-understand and support nutritional needs of active children.

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