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The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of disordered eating (DE), menstrual dysfunction (MD), and low bone mineral density (BMD) among US collegiate athletes (n = 112) representing 7 different sports (diving, swimming, x-country, track, tennis, field hockey, and softball) and determine differences in prevalence existed between athletes participating in lean-build (LB) and non-lean build (NLB) sports. DE and MD were assessed by a health, weight, dieting, and menstrual history questionnaire. Spinal BMD was determined via dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Twenty-eight athletes met the criteria for DE, twenty-nine for MD, and two athletes had low BMDs (using a Z score below −2.0). Ten athletes met the criteria for two disorders (one with disordered eating and low BMD and nine with disordered eating and menstrual dysfunction), while only one athlete met the criteria for all three disorders. Using a Z score below −1.0, two additional athletes met the criteria for all three disorders and three more athletes met the criteria for a combination of two disorders. With the exception of MD, which was significantly more prevalent among LB vs. NLB sports (P = 0.053), there were no differences between the groups in the prevalence of individual disorders or combinations of disorders. These data indicate that the combined prevalence of DE, MD, and low BMD among collegiate athletes is small; however, a significant number suffer from individual disorders of the Triad.
Beals is with the Division of Nutrition and Dept of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Hill is with the Community Hospital of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN.