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Appetite. 2012 Feb;58(1):98-104. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.10.007. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Nutrition and culture in professional football. A mixed method approach.

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Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, Whitelands College, Holybourne Avenue, London SW15 4JD, UK.


An adequate diet is essential for the optimal performance of professional football (soccer) players. Existing studies have shown that players fail to consume such a diet, without interrogating the reasons for this. The aim of this study was to explore the difficulties professional football players experience in consuming a diet for optimal performance. It utilized a mixed method approach, combining nutritional intake assessment with qualitative interviews, to ascertain both what was consumed and the wider cultural factors that affect consumption. The study found a high variability in individual intake which ranged widely from 2648 to 4606 kcal/day. In addition, the intake of carbohydrate was significantly lower than that recommended. The study revealed that the main food choices for carbohydrate and protein intake were pasta and chicken respectively. Interview results showed the importance of tradition within the world of professional football in structuring the players' approach to nutrition. In addition, the players' personal eating habits that derived from their class and national habitus restricted their food choice by conflicting with the dietary choices promoted within the professional football clubs.

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