Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Education and Human Services


Nutrition and Food Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kathleen D. Bauer

Committee Member

Shahla Wunderlich

Committee Member

Doreen Liou


MyPyramid was used to evaluate the nutritional status of twelve lean and fourteen non-lean high school female athletes. Lean athletes are those who participate in sports where weight control is considered important for performance. Weights of athletes participating in non-lean sports are less likely to influence performance. In this study, all the lean sport athletes participated in track, and the non-lean athletes competed in softball. Subjects included twenty-five middle-class Caucasians and one Hispanic from two northern New Jersey high schools. All subjects and their parents gave their consent to participate. Subjects needed to be in good health, between the ages of 14-18, and be a member of a varsity or junior varsity school team. Three-day food records were evaluated for intake of MyPyramid food groups, calories, protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and iron. Specific nutrients were selected based on their effect on bone health, blood volume and energy levels. A questionnaire assessed common health concerns of female athletes associated with nutrient evaluations. Average height and weight was 64.6 inches and 116.7 pounds for the lean athletes and 63.9 inches and 126 pounds for the non-lean athletes. Average age was 16.5 years for the lean and 16.1 years for the non-lean. A MyPyramid website profile was established for each study participant to evaluate food records. Data was transferred to a Microsoft Excel worksheet for further analysis. Results showed that combined lean and non-lean subjects were below the USDA MyPyramid standards for milk (-1.5 cups, P<0.001), vegetables (- 1.40, cups, P<0.001), fruit (0.59, P<0.001l), carbohydrates (P<0.001), calcium (P<0.001), magnesium (P<0.001) and iron (P<0.001). Lean athletes consumed a three-day mean caloric intake of 1,779 calories, whereas, the non-lean had a three-day mean caloric intake of 1,524 calories. The USDA calcium recommendation is 1300 mg for this age group. Lean group athletes had a three-day mean calcium intake of 1,006.1 mg, while the non-lean group had a mean of 553.46 mg, well below the USDA requirement. The USDA magnesium recommendation is 360 mg. Lean group mean intake was 261.99 mg, 98.01 mg below the USDA standard. The non-lean group three-day mean was 180.98 mg, 179.02 mg under the standard. The USDA iron recommendations for this age group is 15 mg. The lean athletes were above the USDA mean for days one and two and only below for day three. Overall, the lean athletes’ three-day mean was 0.62 above the standard. The non-lean athletes were below the USDA standard for all three days. Their three-day mean was 11.89, 3.11 mg below the recommendation.

CONCLUSION: Results indicated that the diets of participants were not providing them with adequate amounts of daily servings of dairy, vegetables, fruits, and meat and beans according to the USDA MyPyramid standards. Only the grain group was not below the food group standards. Caloric intakes were within recommended ranges. Intakes of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamin B12 and folic acid were above the USDA nutrient standards. Mean intakes of calcium, magnesium and iron were significantly below Dietary Reference Intake mineral standards.. These findings should alert athletes, parents, and coaches that the current dietary status of female high school athletes may be lacking in important bone-building and performance related nutrients.

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