|It is recognized that much of the dietary data on adolescents
and athletes is prone to reporting error, mostly through under-reporting.
Nevertheless, in the majority of studies assessing the nutritional
intake of young soccer players under-reporting has not been taken
into consideration. The purpose of this study was to assess the dietary
intake of a sample of young male Italian high-level soccer players
on two time points to evaluate the degree of under- reporting. Seventy-five
male high level soccer players (age range: 15-17 years) completed
4-day food records on two separate occasions (T0; T1, 3 months after
T0). Under-reporting was assessed by the ratio of reported estimated
energy intake (EEI) to estimated energy expenditure (EEE). Forty-
three subjects, whose food records were judged accurate enough both
at T0 and T1, were included in the data analysis (inclusion rate 57.3%).
No significant weight changes were documented between T0 and T1 and
in the two weeks preceding both T0 and T1. Reported mean daily energy
intake was significantly lower than mean estimated daily energy expenditure
both at T0 and T1 (p < 0.001). The average EEI/EEE ratio was 0.75
+ 0.2 both at T0 and T1. It was < 80% in 27 subjects (62.8%) at
T0 and in 23 (53.4%) at T1; it reached 50% in 4 subjects both at T0
and T1. The degree of under- reporting of the young soccer players
was in line with the available data on this age group. This study
emphasizes that under-reporting is a critical issue in the evaluation
of young athletes dietary intake, which should be considered in the
interpretation of data, particularly when energy inadequacies are
reported. Further studies with uniformed methods are needed, in order
to reduce the degree of under-reporting, obtain reliable data on the
dietary intake of young soccer players and evaluate the efficacy of
targeted nutrition education programs.
athletes, dietary records, energy intake, reporting bias.