Sport and children's nutrition: What can we learn from the junior Australian football setting?

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    There is a widely held belief that sport participation inherently enhances health among youth. Such a perception often motivates parents to encourage children’s initial and ongoing involvement in organised sport and physical activity. While sport certainly comprises an important vehicle for accruing physical activity, the sport environment may not necessarily enhance other healthrelated behaviours, including dietary practices. The literature identifies the influence of the physical environment in this regard, including the availability of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods in sport settings. In considering additional influences on children’s nutrition in sporting contexts, the role of parents is less understood. This is the first paper to emerge from a larger qualitative study, in which the basis of the investigation was to explore parental influence in the junior Australian football context. The naturalistic manner of qualitative inquiry led to a number of unintended yet highly pertinent emergent themes, including the role of parents in maintaining and reinforcing some contentious dietary behaviours among children post weekend sport. Drawing on individual interviews and focus groups with parents, children and coaches (n = 102), this paper discusses the role of parents in reinforcing a ‘food-as-reward’ culture in the junior Australian football setting. The findings indicate that while parents play a vital role in promoting good nutrition in the lead up to weekend sport, they also reinforce a culture that fosters unhealthy dietary practices in the post-game setting. This gives rise to the notion that we, in this paper, have coined the ‘binge-purge’ paradox. This paper discusses the implications of this health issue in relation to the ‘sport for health’ rhetoric, and in broader society and culture.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-104
    Number of pages14
    JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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