The Diet Quality of Competitive Adolescent Male Rugby Union Players with Energy Balance Estimated Using Different Physical Activity Coefficients

Nutrients. 2016 Sep 7;8(9):548. doi: 10.3390/nu8090548.


Objectives: The aims of the current study were to comprehensively assess the dietary intakes and diet quality of a sample of Australian competitive adolescent rugby union players and compare these intakes with National and Sports Dietitians Association (SDA) Recommendations for adolescent athletes. A secondary aim investigated applying different physical activity level (PAL) coefficients to determine total energy expenditure (TEE) in order to more effectively evaluate the adequacy of energy intakes.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Methods: Anthropometrics and dietary intakes were assessed in 25 competitive adolescent male rugby union players (14 to 18 years old). Diet was assessed using the validated Australian Eating Survey (AES) food frequency questionnaire and diet quality was assessed through the Australian Recommended Food Score.

Results: The median dietary intakes of participants met national recommendations for percent energy (% E) from carbohydrate, protein and total fat, but not carbohydrate intake when evaluated as g/day as proposed in SDA guidelines. Median intakes of fibre and micronutrients including calcium and iron also met national recommendations. Overall diet quality was classified as 'good' with a median diet quality score of 34 (out of a possible 73); however, there was a lack of variety within key food groups including carbohydrates and proteins. Non-core food consumption exceeded recommended levels at 38% of the daily total energy intake, with substantial contributions from takeaway foods and sweetened beverages. A PAL coefficient of 1.2-1.4 was found to best balance the energy intakes of these players in their pre-season.

Conclusions: Adolescent rugby players met the percent energy recommendations for macronutrients and attained an overall 'good' diet quality score. However, it was identified that when compared to specific recommendations for athletes, carbohydrate intakes were below recommendations and these players in their pre-season reported high consumption of non-core foods, particularly sugar sweetened drinks and low intakes of vegetables.

Keywords: adolescents; food frequency questionnaire; nutrients; rugby.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Drinking Water / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise*
  • Football
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Drinking Water
  • Micronutrients