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Always On The Go: Snacks, Kids And Recreational Sports. Can Healthy Win?
American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference (ACSM) (2014)
  • Amy Jo Riggs, Georgia Southern University
  • Andrew R. Hansen, Georgia Southern University
  • Amy A. Hackney, Georgia Southern University
Background: Participation in organized sport activities increases physical activity, but creates challenges for providing nutritious meals on the go. Snacking is increasingly practiced by parents with the consequence of high energy and fat dense snacks winning over healthy choices. Research has focused on snacks provided during activities, but before and after activity snacking has yet to be assessed.

Purpose: Assess what beverages and snacks parents provide children pre, during, and post activity and test the effect of a nutritional intervention on the type of beverages and snacks provided.

Methods: Parents (n=22) with children aged 4-8 years involved in recreational soccer and baseball were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a no-intervention group. Participants completed nutrition knowledge and snack and beverage measures. Educational pamphlets and snack menus were then provided to the intervention group. Four weeks later, participants completed the nutrition assessment measures again. Pre post group scores were compared using between-groups ANCOVA.

Results: Statistical analyses were underpowered, but showed several medium to large effects of the nutrition intervention. Families in the intervention group provided children a significantly greater proportion of healthy snacks during games than control group families F(1, 15) = 6.43, p = .02, Cohen’s d = .94 and means were in the expected direction for pregame snacks, F (1, 14) = 1.36, p = .26, Cohen’s d = .50. No differences were observed between groups on postgame snacks offered, with both groups providing a high proportion of healthy snacks. There were also marginally significant results for the intervention families to provide more healthy beverage choices during (p = .07, d = .99) and after (p =.08; d = .55) game play.

Conclusions: The nutrition intervention had the greatest impact on the during-activity snacks provided. Results also trended in the expected direction for pregame snacks, and during and after game beverages, demonstrating that healthy nutrition can be accomplished during the busy sports seasons. More data is required, but given information and ideas about nutrition, parents will make healthy choices. Recreation departments can be a key facilitator in this process.
  • Snacks,
  • Kids,
  • Sports
Publication Date
May 29, 2014
Orlando, FL
Citation Information
Amy Jo Riggs, Andrew R. Hansen and Amy A. Hackney. "Always On The Go: Snacks, Kids And Recreational Sports. Can Healthy Win?" American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference (ACSM) (2014)
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