The impact of coaches providing healthy snacks at junior sport training
Objective: Sports clubs provide an opportunity to tackle childhood obesity rates through targeted interventions. Our study aimed to investigate if coaches providing healthy snacks to participants before junior netball sessions at five clubs in Melbourne, Australia, increased consumption of healthy foods and influenced coach perceptions of participants’ attention/participation levels.
Methods: Coaches provided healthy snacks to participants before each netball session for one school term. Children's food consumption was observed at one session before, during and after the intervention. Parents attending the observed session completed pre- and post-intervention questionnaires. Coaches rated participants’ attention/participation at the observed sessions before and during the intervention, and completed a questionnaire post-intervention.
Results: Baseline: Ice cream and cake were the most frequently consumed snacks. During intervention: Fruit, cheese and crackers and vegetables were the most frequently consumed snacks. Coaches ratings of participants’ attention/participation increased significantly (baseline: 6.4 ± 0.17, intervention: 7.5 ± 0.36; p=0.02) where the same coach undertook ratings at both time points.
Conclusions: Coaches providing healthy snacks before sessions at sports clubs increased consumption of nutrient-dense foods at the session, and may have positively affected participants’ attention/participation.
Implications for public health: This study highlights how a simple intervention could improve the diet of Australian children.