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Athletes of all ages need fuel before, during, and after exercise to improve athletic performance. Athletes who are still growing should pay special attention to supporting their bodies with proper nutrition and hydration.

A condition called relative energy deficit in sports occurs when an athlete burns more calories than they get from food. It is most common in sports like gymnastics and diving and weight class sports like wrestling.

In school-aged athletes, calorie deficiency can be accidentally caused by the schedule. The student is having lunch, participating in a competition and is too tired or too busy to eat a regular meal late at night.

According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, students from food-insecure families are at risk of unintentional undernourishment when they do not have access to the amount of food needed to meet their needs. nutritional.

Athletes are inclined to try diets designed for rapid weight loss by cutting calories and eliminating food groups. These diets are not suitable for young athletes, who need adequate caloric intake to fuel their sport and support normal growth and development.

If your student-athlete seems to be making unwise food choices, listen to what he has to say about it. There is information for parents and coaches about eating disorders at the national eating disorders website.

Ann Cochran is the Health Navigation Coordinator at the Dallas County Department of Public Health.