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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Feb;37(2):184-93.

The female athlete triad: are elite athletes at increased risk?

Author information

1
The Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, PO Box 4014, Ullevaal Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway. monica.torstveit@nih.no

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The aim of this study was to examine the percentage of elite athletes and controls at risk of the female athlete triad.

METHODS:

A detailed questionnaire, which included questions regarding training and/or physical activity patterns, menstrual history, oral contraceptive use, weight history, eating patterns, dietary history, and the Body Dissatisfaction (BD) and Drive for Thinness (DT) subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), was prepared. The questionnaire was administered to the total population of female elite athletes in Norway representing the national teams at the junior or senior level, 13-39 yr of age (N = 938) and non-athlete controls in the same age group (N = 900). After exclusion, a total of 669 athletes (88%) and 607 controls (70%) completed the questionnaire satisfactorily.

RESULTS:

A higher percentage of controls (69.2%) than athletes (60.4%) was classified as being at risk of the Triad (P < 0.01). A higher percentage of controls than athletes reported use of pathogenic weight-control methods and had high BD subscale scores (P < 0.001). However, more athletes reported menstrual dysfunction and stress fractures compared with controls (P < 0.05). A higher percentage of both athletes competing in leanness sports (70.1%) and the non-athlete control group (69.2%) was classified as being at risk of the Triad compared with athletes competing in non-leanness sports (55.3%) (P < 0.001). Furthermore, a higher percentage of athletes competing in aesthetic sports (66.4%) than ball game sports (52.6%) was classified as being at risk of the Triad (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

More athletes competing in leanness sports and more non-athlete controls were classified as being at risk of the Triad compared with athletes competing in non-leanness sports.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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