This study examined clinical and subclinical eating disorders (EDs) in young Norwegian modern rhythmic gymnasts. Subjects were 12 members of the national team, age 13-20 years, and individually matched nonathletic controls. All subjects participated in a structured clinical interview for EDs, medical examination, and dietary analysis. Two of the gymnasts met the DSM-III-R criteria for anorexia nervosa, and 2 met the criteria for anorexia athletica (a subclinical ED). AH the gymnasts were dieting in spite of the fact that they were all extremely lean. The avoidance of maturity, menstrual irregularities, energy deficit, high training volume, and high frequency of injuries were common features among the gymnasts. There is a need to learn more about risk factors and the etiology of EDs in different sports. Coaches, parents, and athletes need more information about principles of proper nutrition and methods to achieve ideal body composition for optimal health and athletic performance.
Eating Disorders, Energy Intake, Training Volume, and Menstrual Function in High-level Modern Rhythmic Gymnasts
Prevalence of Eating Disorders in Elite Female Athletes
This study examined the prevalence of eating disorders (ED) and the possible difference between ED symptoms and true ED by using questionnaires as compared with an interview and clinical evaluation in Norwegian elite female athletes (n=522) from 35 sports and nonathletic controls (n=448). In addition to the 117 athletes classified as "at risk" to develop ED, 90 subjects were randomly chosen, comprising 30 athletic controls, 30 at-risk nonathletes, and 30 nonathletic controls. All weIe interviewed and clinically examined. A significantly higher number of athletes (18%) than controls (5%) were found to actually suffer from ED, particularly athletes competing in sports in which leanness or a specific weight were considered important. When results from the screening study were compared to those from the interviews and clinical examinations, a significant underreporting of ED among athletes was demonstrated. The athletes also reported the use of other pathogenic methods in the screening study compared to what they reported in the interview. Nonathletes more correctly reported the use of pathogenic methods but overreported the prevalence of ED. Thus the issue of using questionnaires alone or in combination with personal interview/clinical examination merits further investigation.
Nutrient Intake of Female Elite Athletes Suffering from Eating Disorders
This study assessed the nutrient intake and eating behavior in Norwegian female elite athletes suffering from eating disorders (ED) who met the criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN), anorexia athletica (AA), or bulimia nervosa (BN). The subjects included 7 AN, 43 AA, 42 BN, and 30 controls. Three-day and 24-hr food records were used to assess energy and nutrient intake. Results revealed that a significant number of AN and AA athletes have diets too low in energy and nutrients, the mean intake for energy and CHO being lower than recommended for active females. A significant number did not reach the protein level recommended for athletes. In addition, there were low intakes of several micronutrients, most notably calcium, vitamin D, and iron. The energy and nutritional inadequacy, combined with the use of purging, are of major concern since the athletes in this study were relatively young. It is unknown whether the abnormal eating pattern is a consequence of ED or is typical of top level athletes.
Long-Term Effect of Weight Loss on Body Composition and Performance in Elite Athletes
Ina Garthe, Truls Raastad, and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen
When weight loss (WL) is needed, it is recommended that athletes do it gradually by 0.5–1 kg/wk through moderate energy restriction. However, the effect of WL rate on long-term changes in body composition (BC) and performance has not been investigated in elite athletes.
To compare changes in body mass (BM), fat mass (FM), lean body mass (LBM), and performance 6 and 12 mo after 2 different WL interventions promoting loss of 0.7% vs. 1.4% of body weight per wk in elite athletes.
Twenty-three athletes completed 6- and 12-mo postintervention testing (slow rate [SR] n = 14, 23.5 ± 3.3 yr, 72.2 ± 12.2 kg; fast rate [FR] n = 9, 21.4 ± 4.0 yr, 71.6 ± 12.0 kg). The athletes had individualized diet plans promoting the predetermined weekly WL during intervention, and 4 strength-training sessions per wk were included. BM, BC, and strength (1-repetition maximum) were tested at baseline, postintervention, and 6 and 12 mo after the intervention.
BM decreased by ~6% in both groups during the intervention but was not different from baseline values after 12 mo. FM decreased in SR and FR during the intervention by 31% ± 3% vs. 23% ± 4%, respectively, but was not different from baseline after 12 mo. LBM and upper body strength increased more in SR than in FR (2.0% ± 1.3% vs. 0.8% ± 1.1% and 12% ± 2% vs. 6% ± 2%) during the intervention, but after 12 mo there were no significant differences between groups in BC or performance.
There were no significant differences between groups after 12 mo, suggesting that WL rate is not the most important factor in maintaining BC and performance after WL in elite athletes.
Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport: The Tip of an Iceberg
Margo L. Mountjoy, Louise M. Burke, Trent Stellingwerff, and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen
Effect of Two Different Weight-Loss Rates on Body Composition and Strength and Power-Related Performance in Elite Athletes
Ina Garthe, Truls Raastad, Per Egil Refsnes, Anu Koivisto, and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen
When weight loss (WL) is necessary, athletes are advised to accomplish it gradually, at a rate of 0.5–1 kg/wk. However, it is possible that losing 0.5 kg/wk is better than 1 kg/wk in terms of preserving lean body mass (LBM) and performance. The aim of this study was to compare changes in body composition, strength, and power during a weekly body-weight (BW) loss of 0.7% slow reduction (SR) vs. 1.4% fast reduction (FR). We hypothesized that the faster WL regimen would result in more detrimental effects on both LBM and strength-related performance. Twenty-four athletes were randomized to SR (n = 13, 24 ± 3 yr, 71.9 ± 12.7 kg) or FR (n = 11, 22 ± 5 yr, 74.8 ± 11.7 kg). They followed energy-restricted diets promoting the predetermined weekly WL. All athletes included 4 resistance-training sessions/wk in their usual training regimen. The mean times spent in intervention for SR and FR were 8.5 ± 2.2 and 5.3 ± 0.9 wk, respectively (p < .001). BW, body composition (DEXA), 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) tests, 40-m sprint, and countermovement jump were measured before and after intervention. Energy intake was reduced by 19% ± 2% and 30% ± 4% in SR and FR, respectively (p = .003). BW and fat mass decreased in both SR and FR by 5.6% ± 0.8% and 5.5% ± 0.7% (0.7% ± 0.8% vs. 1.0% ± 0.4%/wk) and 31% ± 3% and 21 ± 4%, respectively. LBM increased in SR by 2.1% ± 0.4% (p < .001), whereas it was unchanged in FR (–0.2% ± 0.7%), with significant differences between groups (p < .01). In conclusion, data from this study suggest that athletes who want to gain LBM and increase 1RM strength during a WL period combined with strength training should aim for a weekly BW loss of 0.7%.
Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders in Aquatic Sports
Anna Melin, Monica Klungland Torstveit, Louise Burke, Saul Marks, and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen
Disordered eating behavior (DE) and eating disorders (EDs) are of great concern because of their associations with physical and mental health risks and, in the case of athletes, impaired performance. The syndrome originally known as the Female Athlete Triad, which focused on the interaction of energy availability, reproductive function, and bone health in female athletes, has recently been expanded to recognize that Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) has a broader range of negative effects on body systems with functional impairments in both male and female athletes. Athletes in leanness-demanding sports have an increased risk for RED-S and for developing EDs/DE. Special risk factors in aquatic sports related to weight and body composition management include the wearing of skimpy and tight-fitting bathing suits, and in the case of diving and synchronized swimming, the involvement of subjective judgments of performance. The reported prevalence of DE and EDs in athletic populations, including athletes from aquatic sports, ranges from 18 to 45% in female athletes and from 0 to 28% in male athletes. To prevent EDs, aquatic athletes should practice healthy eating behavior at all periods of development pathway, and coaches and members of the athletes’ health care team should be able to recognize early symptoms indicating risk for energy deficiency, DE, and EDs. Coaches and leaders must accept that DE/EDs can be a problem in aquatic disciplines and that openness regarding this challenge is important.
Self-Expectations, Socially Prescribed Expectations, and Wellness in 14- to 15-Year-Old Athletes, Ballet, and Music Students in Norwegian Talent Schools—An Interview Study
Annett Victoria Stornæs, Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen, Gunn Pettersen, Jan H. Rosenvinge, and Sanna M. Nordin-Bates
Talent-school settings may generate stress via demanding expectations. To investigate students representing Norway’s growing phenomenon of early adolescent talent schools, we interviewed twenty-seven 14- to15-year-old boys and girls about their experiences with self- and socially imposed expectations. Students were recruited from two sports schools (n = 14) and one school each with talent classes for ballet (n = 7) and music (n = 6). Using reflexive thematic analysis, we found four main themes representing the performers’ accounts of (a) self-oriented expectations of persistent hard work, evoking self-doubts, and never-give-up attitudes; (b) coaches’/teachers’ socially prescribed expectations, stimulating hard work, and pursuit of approval and opportunities; (c) parental expectations, reflected as helpful support, concerns of letting parents down, and negotiating independence; and (d) struggles with balancing expectations, reflected by demanding workloads, difficulties with prioritizing recovery, and ill-being. Early interventions targeting unhealthy self- and socially imposed expectations in high-expectation settings may be required to safeguard youth performers’ healthy development.