Assessment of Nutritional Status and Dietary Behaviour of Division One League Footballers in Tamale Metropolis

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University of Ghana


Background: Football, the most common sports worldwide, is played in almost all nations. Success in football brings reputation, wealth and international recognition but comes as a result of regular physical training with muscular exertions. Good nutrition is an essential tool to help footballers meet the energy demands of training in order to maintain performance capacity and prevent the development of excessive fatigue. Iron also plays an important role in aerobic capacity and performance due to its role as an oxygen transporter to working muscles. Less than adequate iron leads to less oxygen been delivered to muscles, resulting in deterioration of maximal oxygen consumption and reduced performance. Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional status and dietary behaviour of Division One League (DOL) footballers in the Tamale Metropolis. Methods: The study was cross-sectional. Footballers from five DOL teams in Tamale Metropolis were recruited for the study. A structured questionnaire was used to obtain information about their socio-demographic characteristics. Their food intakes were assessed using a 24-hour recall and a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Their body fat composition and anthropometric measures were also assessed to determine the nutritional status of the footballers using a bio-impedance analyser after their heights had been taken with a stadiometer. Their full blood count, haemoglobin (Hb) and ferritin levels were also determined. Results: A total of 130 footballers were involved in the study. Seventy-two respondents (60.5%) had normal BMI, 42 (35.3%) were overweight, 3 (2.5%) were obese and 2 (1.7%) were underweight. About 1.7% were anaemic and 91% had low mean corpuscular volume (MCV) values, symptoms of microcytic anaemia. All the footballer had normal ferritin levels. Fruit juice and animal proteins were the least consumed food groups with an average consumption of two times per week (2/7). Soft drinks, vegetable proteins, and tubers were consumed three times a week (3/7), while cereals and grains had the highest frequency of consumption of four times per week (4/7). Plant proteins showed a significant correlation (all p < 0.05) with red blood cells, haemoglobin, and serum ferritin. Animal protein, however, showed no correlations with the blood parameters. Conclusion: The dietary pattern of the DOL footballers showed they had high intake of energy giving foods (cereals and grains and tubers) but low consumption of animal proteins. Footballers with high consumption of animal proteins had better Hb, ferritin, MCV, and RBC levels. The prevalence of anaemia was low (1.7%). The high prevalence of overweight could be due to high levels of percentage muscle mass. The football teams in Ghana should be educated on the need for balanced and nutritionally adequate diets. Further research is needed to determine the relationship between diet and anaemia among footballers in a larger population


Thesis (MSc) - University of Ghana, 2015