Risk of low energy availability among female and male elite runners competing at the 26th European cross-country championships

Filipe Jesus, Inês Castela, Analiza M. Silva, Pedro A. Branco, Mónica Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Low energy availability (LEA) causes impaired physiological functioning. Cross-country running is a weight-sensitive sport, making athletes more prone to LEA. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of elite European cross-country athletes at risk of LEA using the LEA in Females Questionnaire (LEAF-Q) and to analyze demographic and physical characteristics that are associated with LEA. Athletes ≥ 18 years competing at the 26th European Cross-Country Championships (n = 602) were invited to complete a questionnaire (sociodemographic, training, anthropometric characteristics, and LEAF-Q). A total of 207 valid surveys were collected (83 females, 22.1 (4.0) years, and 124 males, 22.3 (4.1) years), and 16 surveys were excluded. A high prevalence of athletes at risk of LEA (64.3%) was observed, being higher in females than in males (79.5 and 54.0% respectively, p < 0.001). More than half of athletes (54.1%, n = 112) reported bowel movements once a week or more rarely, while 33 female athletes (41.3%) did not report normal menstruation. Overall, cross-country athletes are at high risk of LEA. Moreover, a high prevalence of gastrointestinal and menstrual impairments was reported. Hence, athletes should be followed by multidisciplinary teams to inform, prevent, and treat LEA and its effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number873
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalNutrients
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Gastrointestinal function
  • Injuries
  • Menstrual function
  • Nutrition
  • Questionnaire

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Risk of low energy availability among female and male elite runners competing at the 26th European cross-country championships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this