Nutritional status and protein dietary intake of soccer players in the premier league, Nairobi province
Nekesa, Waswa Sarah
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The objective of this study was to determine the nutritional status and the protein dietary intake of soccer players in Nairobi. The target population of the study consisted of the soccer players in the premier league. The universe population was used to obtain the teams in the premier league based in Nairobi. A total of 270 players of the Premier League teams in Nairobi were included in the study. Data for this study was collected using a questionnaire. Information on demographic, socio-economic, nutritional status and feeding patterns of soccer players' was collected in a cross sectional descriptive survey. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to code and analyze data. Anthropometric measurements of weight and height were also collected. These measurements were used to compute the nutritional indicator, Body Mass Index (BMI) (wt (kg)/ ht (m2)) of the soccer players. Out of the 270 players assessed, 19% were malnourished. There was no relationship between protein dietary intake and BMI. However, ANOVA revealed a significant negative relationship between the BMI and level of education (X2=1.419, df= 3, P=0.043). The higher the level of education the better the BMI. Dietary intake was assessed using the Food Frequency Table and the 24 hour Recall. Nutri-Survey software was used to organise and analyse the 24 hour recall data. A mean RDA of 1.48 g/kg of protein was met by 53% of the soccer players. The main source (76%) of proteins in their diet was from plant sources with only 14% from animal sources. The results showed that the level of nutritional knowledge was quite low amongst this cohort. The importance of protein food to the body was determined and showed that 55% knew the body building function of protein foods. However, 80.7% did not know that proteins are useful in body repair, while 82.6% were not aware of the contribution of proteins to immunity. Likewise, 65.9% did not know the protein as a minor energy source.. There was a negative relationship between the income and type of protein easily accessed. This was because of the high cost of animal source proteins (X2=19.997, df=8, p=0.01). Therefore, the study recommends the need for the team management to invest in routine nutritional education and awareness among the soccer players. Second, there is call for the adjustment of the players' monthly allowances to enable the players to afford adequate protein dietary intake. There is also the need to introduce and maintain feeding programmes at the training camps in order to complement the players' dietary intake.