Study aim: To identify main differences in nutrient patterns, food preferences and physical self-concept between the world's elite rhythmic gymnasts and untrained controls.
Material and methods: A group of elite rhythmic gymnasts (n = 103) aged 15 - 21 years volunteered to participate in the study during the 2003 World Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics (Budapest, Hungary). A selected group of 113 untrained schoolgirls aged 15 - 18 years served as controls. Typical eating habits and physical self-concept were assessed by applying a questionnaire containing questions on dietary habits and on self-concept (taken from the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale).
Results: The female gymnasts had significantly lower (p<0.01) body mass and BMI than their untrained mates. The levels of physical self-concept were similar in both groups. Rhythmic gymnasts declared eating lunch and dinner, as well as eating sweets, eating excessively and liking eating, less frequently than their untrained mates (p<0.01).
Conclusion: Attaining a perfect body by elite gymnasts may mean a very high cost associated with poor dietary habits and inadequate nutrient intake.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.