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March 14, 1977

Nutrition for Athletes

JAMA. 1977;237(11):1076-1077. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270380020003

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To the Editor.—  The advice that Dr Nathan Smith (236:149, 1976) has given to athletes is in some respects unsatisfactory. I wish to comment on my differences of opinion with him.Body composition is best changed by exercise, not by changing the amount or quality of the diet. With the rare exception of the hugely obese, children under 16 years ought not to lose weight. They should hold weight until they have grown into the appropriate degree of fatness. This is because weight loss will inevitably compromise growth, and that is not completely restorable. Thus, Dr Smith's recommendation of a 0.5- to 1-kg weight loss or gain per week is too much for youngsters.Pharmaceuticals containing iron are rarely necessary, even for anemic women. The best source of iron is the heme in red meat or liver.The coach and his helpers cannot and will not take dietary histories or