A new study published in Childhood Obesity earlier this month suggests that youth baseball may actually do more to promote obesity than curb it.
The study, conducted by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, found that youth baseball players between the ages of eight and 11 years old at a North Carolina youth baseball complex consumed high-calorie food items 72 percent of the time and drank sugar-sweetened beverages 53 percent of the time. Ninety percent of food consumed was purchased from concession stands.
Some of the most commonly consumed foods: French fries, candy and cookies.
As a result, children involved in youth baseball could be consuming more calories than they burn off playing baseball, which leaves them at risk for weight-management and obesity problems.
“Though youth sports are an excellent way to promote physical activity, social interaction and positive health behaviors, the food environments are often characterized by less healthy food options with high-calorie contents and lower nutrient density,” senior author Joseph Skelton, MD, MS, said in a press release.
According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 18 percent of children between the ages of six and 11 were considered obese in 2012 — up from only seven percent in 1980. Obesity can put children at risk for many immediate and long-term health effects.
With these risks in mind, the Wake Forest Baptist study called for parents to play a more active role in ensuring young athletes receive the proper diet at the ballpark.
“Parents should plan ahead for these busy times and even advocate in their local sports leagues for policies that address snacks and drinks,” co-author Megan Irby, MS, said.