The Association of a High Drive for Thinness With Energy Deficiency and Severe Menstrual Disturbances: Confirmation in a Large Population of Exercising Women

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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A high drive-for-thinness (DT) score obtained from the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 is associated with surrogate markers of energy deficiency in exercising women. The purposes of this study were to confirm the association between DT and energy deficiency in a larger population of exercising women that was previously published and to compare the distribution of menstrual status in exercising women when categorized as high vs. normal DT. A high DT was defined as a score ≥7, corresponding to the 75th percentile for college-age women. Exercising women age 22.9 ± 4.3 yr with a BMI of 21.2±2.2 kg/m2 were retrospectively grouped as high DT (n = 27) or normal DT (n = 90) to compare psychometric, energetic, and reproductive characteristics. Chi-square analyses were performed to compare the distribution of menstrual disturbances between groups. Measures of resting energy expenditure (REE) (4,949 ± 494 kJ/day vs. 5,406 ± 560 kJ/day, p < .001) and adjusted REE (123 ± 16 kJ/LBM vs. 130 ± 9 kJ/LBM, p = .027) were suppressed in exercising women with high DT vs. normal DT, respectively. Ratio of measured REE to predicted REE (pREE) in the high-DT group was 0.85 ± 0.10, meeting the authors’ operational definition for an energy deficiency (REE:pREE <0.90). A greater prevalence of severe menstrual disturbances such as amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea was observed in the high-DT group (χ2 = 9.3, p = .003) than in the normal-DT group. The current study confirms the association between a high DT score and energy deficiency in exercising women and demonstrates a greater prevalence of severe menstrual disturbances in exercising women with high DT.

The authors are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Penn State University, University Park, PA.