Can nutrition impact the World Cup results?

Despite reports that spirits were low in the Uruguay Football Team because 39kg of their favourite caramel spread was confiscated at the airport, they still managed a beat England 2 – 1 this evening in the World Cup match in Brazil.

world-cup-brazil-2014-wiki_1402767432When England won the World Cup in 1966 players were said to have eaten pies, chips and anything else they fancied before a match. These days there is much more of a focus on footballers achieving optimum nutrition to help enhance their performance, so I thought I’d look for any research papers on the subject.        

I found a 2012 study that looked at the food intakes of professional football players and found that they did not consume a diet that was adequate for optimal performance. One of the reasons for this may be the difficulties players experience in changing their diet to a sport specific diet.

The research found that many England professional footballers are often from working-class backgrounds and as a result tastes are likely to be derived from working-class eating habits formed in childhood.

When asked what they ate in childhood this is what they said:

  • “I lived on fish and chips and pies”
  • “I ate meat and lots of potatoes and not much veg apart from carrots and peas”
  • “Every single meal until I was nearly 16 years old was sausage and chips”

If this is the preferred diet of the England Team, then as a student nutritionist I would say we are going home, but who knows if the players in 1966 did it, I could be wrong. Let’s pray for a miracle.


Ono, M., Kennedy, E., Reeves, S. & Cronin, L. (2012) Nutrition and culture in professional football. A mixed methods approach. Appetite 58 98 – 104

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