Nutrition assessment of horse-racing athletes

J Community Health. 2011 Apr;36(2):261-4. doi: 10.1007/s10900-010-9306-x.


Athletes involved in horse racing face weight restrictions like wrestlers and dancers; however, the literature is sparse pertaining to nutritional habits of jockeys. The practice of "making weight" causes these athletes to engage in potentially unhealthy practices. A gap in nutritionally sound practices and methods used by jockeys was identified and a desire for nutrition education was expressed to Cooperative Extension of Delaware by representatives of the riders at Delaware Park Race Track. Nutrition assessment was done using the Nutrition Care Process. Twenty jockeys were interviewed using an assessment form developed to target areas of disordered eating. Body mass index (BMI), mean weight loss on race day, methods of weight loss and ease of weight maintenance were examined. The jockeys were also asked for areas they wished to receive nutrition education on in the future. The BMI of the 20 jockeys ranged from 17.0 to 21.4 during racing season, with only one jockey in the "underweight" category. This range increased to 19.1-24.0 when the riders were not riding. The most common method of weight loss was the use of steam rooms, to lose an average 2.5 lb in 1 day. Eight of 20, the most common response, reported it very easy to maintain their racing weight. The jockeys reported interest in future education sessions on meal planning and healthy food ideas. The assessment was used as the basis to develop nutrition education materials and presentations for the riders at the race track.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Athletes / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sports*
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult