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Jeanne F. Nichols, Mitchell J. Rauh, Michelle T. Barrack, Hava-Shoshana Barkai and Yael Pernick

The authors’ purpose was to determine the prevalence and compare associations of disordered eating (DE) and menstrual irregularity (MI) among high school athletes. The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) and a menstrual-history questionnaire were administered to 423 athletes (15.7 ± 1.2 y, 61.2 ± 10.2 kg) categorized as lean build (LB; n = 146) or nonlean build (NLB; n = 277). Among all athletes, 20.0% met the criteria for DE and 20.1% for MI. Although the prevalence of MI was higher in LB (26.7%) than NLB (16.6%) athletes (P = 0.01), no differences were found for DE. For both sport types, oligo/amenorrheic athletes consistently reported higher EDE-Q scores than eumenorrheic athletes (P < 0.05). Athletes with DE were over 2 times as likely (OR = 2.3, 95%CI: 1.3, 4.2) to report oligo/amenorrhea than athletes without DE. These data establish an association between DE and MI among high school athletes and indicate that LB athletes have more MI but not DE than NLB athletes.

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Julie C. Arends, Min-Yuen C. Cheung, Michelle T. Barrack and Aurelia Nattiv

Background:

Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea is common among female athletes and may be difficult to treat. Restoration of menses (ROM) is crucial to prevent deleterious effects to skeletal and reproductive health.

Objectives:

To determine the natural history of menstrual disturbances in female college athletes managed with nonpharmacologic therapies including increased dietary intake and/or decreased exercise expenditure and to identify factors associated with ROM.

Study Design:

A 5-yr retrospective study of college athletes at a major Division I university.

Methods:

373 female athletes’ charts were reviewed. For athletes with menstrual disturbances, morphometric variables were noted. Months to ROM were recorded for each athlete.

Results:

Fifty-one female athletes (19.7%) had menstrual disturbances (14.7% oligomenorrheic, 5.0% amenorrheic). In all, 17.6% of oligo-/amenorrheic athletes experienced ROM with nonpharmacologic therapy. Mean time to ROM among all athletes with menstrual disturbances was 15.6 ± 2.6 mo. Total absolute (5.3 ± 1.1 kg vs. 1.3 ± 1.1 kg, p < .05) and percentage (9.3% ± 1.9% vs. 2.3% ± 1.9%, p < .05) weight gain and increase in body-mass index (BMI; 1.9 ± 0.4 kg/m2 vs. 0.5 ± 0.4 kg/m2, p < .05) emerged as the primary differentiating characteristics between athletes with ROM and those without ROM. Percent weight gain was identified as a significant positive predictor of ROM, OR (95% CI) = 1.25 (1.01, 1.56), p < .05.

Conclusions:

Nonpharmacologic intervention in college athletes with menstrual disturbances can restore regular menstrual cycles, although ROM may take more than 1 yr. Weight gain or an increase in BMI may be important predictors of ROM.

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Katie J. Thralls, Jeanne F. Nichols, Michelle T. Barrack, Mark Kern and Mitchell J. Rauh

Early detection of the female athlete triad is essential for the long-term health of adolescent female athletes. The purpose of this study was to assess relationships between common anthropometric markers (ideal body weight [IBW] via the Hamwi formula, youth-percentile body mass index [BMI], adult BMI categories, and body fat percentage [BF%]) and triad components, (low energy availability [EA], measured by dietary restraint [DR], menstrual dysfunction [MD], low bone mineral density [BMD]). In the sample (n = 320) of adolescent female athletes (age 15.9± 1.2 y), Spearman’s rho correlations and multiple logistic regression analyses evaluated associations between anthropometric clinical cutoffs and triad components. All underweight categories for the anthropometric measures predicted greater likelihood of MD and low BMD. Athletes with an IBW ≤85% were nearly 4 times more likely to report MD (OR = 3.7, 95% CI [1.8, 7.9]) and had low BMD (OR = 4.1, 95% CI [1.2, 14.2]). Those in <5th percentile for their age-specific BMI were 9 times more likely to report MD (OR 9.1, 95% CI [1.8, 46.9]) and had low BMD than those in the 50th to 85th percentile. Athletes with a high BF% were almost 3 times more likely to report DR (OR = 2.8, 95% CI [1.4, 6.1]). Our study indicates that low age-adjusted BMI and low IBW may serve as evidence-based clinical indicators that may be practically evaluated in the field, predicting MD and low BMD in adolescents. These measures should be tested for their ability as tools to minimize the risk for the triad.

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Jeanne F. Nichols, Hilary Aralis, Sonia Garcia Merino, Michelle T. Barrack, Lindsay Stalker-Fader and Mitchell J. Rauh

There is a growing need to accurately assess exercise energy expenditure (EEE) in athletic populations that may be at risk for health disorders because of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. The Actiheart combines heart rate and uniaxial accelerometry to estimate energy expenditure above rest. The authors’ purpose was to determine the utility of the Actiheart for predicting EEE in female adolescent runners (N = 39, age 15.7 ± 1.1 yr). EEE was measured by indirect calorimetry and predicted by the Actiheart during three 8-min stages of treadmill running at individualized velocities corresponding to each runner’s training, including recovery, tempo, and 5-km-race pace. Repeated-measures ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc comparisons across the 3 running stages indicated that the Actiheart was sensitive to changes in intensity (p < .01), but accelerometer output tended to plateau at race pace. Pairwise comparisons of the mean difference between Actiheart- and criterion-measured EEE yielded values of 0.0436, 0.0539, and 0.0753 kcal · kg−1 · min−1 during recovery, tempo, and race pace, respectively (p < .0001). Bland–Altman plots indicated that the Actiheart consistently underestimated EEE except in 1 runner’s recovery bout. A linear mixed-model regression analysis with height as a covariate provided an improved EEE prediction model, with the overall standard error of the estimate for the 3 speeds reduced to 0.0101 kcal · kg−1 · min−1. Using the manufacturer’s equation that combines heart rate and uniaxial motion, the Actiheart may have limited use in accurately assessing EEE, and therefore energy availability, in young, female competitive runners.