Nutritional concerns for the child and adolescent competitor

Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(7-8):620-31. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.002.


With exercise for sports competition in children and adolescents, acute nutrient needs will change. Fluid intake to ensure the replacement of water and minerals (electrolytes) lost in sweat is important. Energy needs also increase because of the elevated energy expenditure with physical activity. Arguably carbohydrate is the recommended source of training needs, although research has yet to be done to show performance benefits in young athletes on a high-carbohydrate diet. In the majority of sports, an increased intake of food naturally occurs to accommodate the day-to-day nutrient needs of young athletes, and unlike non-athlete, young competitors typically come closer to meeting their requirements for micronutrients. Nonetheless, certain athletic groups may be at risk for shortfalls in their diet. Compared to athletes in team sports, participants in weight-control sports may be at greater risk of failing to meet requirements for energy, protein, and some micronutrients. Endurance athletes, particularly female distance runners, may have intake deficits for the minerals iron and calcium. Acute issues such as heat illness and chronic concerns that include impaired growth and development, and the risk of injuries that include stress fractures may be an outcome of inadequate nutrition during physical training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Electrolytes / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Water / administration & dosage


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Electrolytes
  • Water