Sports medicine stats: Female athlete triad

BalletThe female athlete triad (the triad) refers to a constellation of 3 clinical entities: menstrual dysfunction, low energy availability (with or without an eating disorder), and decreased bone mineral density (BMD). In women who participate in sports that emphasize aesthetics or leanness, such as ballet or running, the prevalence of amenorrhea can be as high as 69%, compared with 2%-5% in the general population.

Disordered eating—including a range of irregular eating behaviors that do not necessarily meet criteria for severe disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN)—is also fairly common in the athletic community. Up to 70% of elite male and female athletes competing in weight class sports are dieting and have some type of disordered eating pattern with the goal to reduce weight before competition.

While eating disorders fall between 2.3%-12% in the average population, the prevalence of clinical eating disorders among female elite athletes range much higher at 16%-47%. Additionally, the prevalence of low bone mineral density ranges from 22%-50% in female athletes.

Source: Sports Health July/August 2012

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