Nutrition is vital in health and sports performance by improving anthropometric-related parameters and dietary habits, especially in the youngest ages. The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been highly recognized for its positive health effects and low adverse environmental impact.
We aimed to characterize adherence to the MD and analyze its association with anthropometric parameters in young soccer players.
In the present study, 132 male young soccer players from under 9 to under 15 categories (aged 7 to 15 years) from a Portuguese football club participated. The Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for Children and Adolescents (KIDMED) questionnaire was applied to assess adherence to the MD. Anthropometric-related parameters, including body mass, height, triceps skinfold thickness (TSKF), suprailiac skinfold thickness (SISKF), body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage (%BF), were determined. The differences between groups were performed accordingly to normal and non-normal distribution. Spearman’s correlations were performed to analyze the hypothetical correlation between KIDMED and BMI.
Players reached an average KIDMED score of 8.36 ± 1.92, showing that 68.2% (n = 90) reached high adherence to the MD, 31.1% (n = 41) had moderate adherence to the MD, and 0.78% (n = 1) had poor adherence to the MD. When the analysis was made for age group and BMI classification, no significant differences were observed in adherence to the MD. Considering the main characteristics of the MD, 50.8% consumed fruit (vs. 49,2%), 52.3% consumed vegetables (vs. 47,7%), and only 20% consumed oleaginous dried fruits (vs. 80%). Dairy consumption throughout the day was 49,2% (vs. no: 50,8%).