Associations Between Collegiate Female Athletes' Energy Availability and Various Female Athlete Triad Components/Risk Factors When Using Three Different Criteria to Calculate Exercise Energy Expenditure

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Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Washington, D.C.

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Upon completion, participant will be able be to describe the benefits and limitations of the three criteria used to calculate exercise energy expenditure for female athletes. The Female Athlete Triad (Triad) is characterized by low energy availability (EA), menstrual dysfunction (MD), and low bone mineral density (BMD). EA is defined as energy intake - exercise energy expenditure (EEE)/ lean body mass (LBM). For free-living studies, researchers have calculated EA using a variety of different criteria for quantifying EEE. In the present study, 19 participants wore triaxial accelerometers to collect EEE data, kept exercise logs, and recorded food intake for four days (3 weekdays and 1 weekend day). Participants also completed the Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire (LEAF-Q), body composition assessment using the Bod-Pod, and a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan to measure BMD. The purpose of this study was to compare methods for quantifying EEE, using three EEE criteria (total activity EEE, structured planned EEE, and METs ≥ 3 EEE) to calculate the participants’ EA. Data was summarized to determine prevalence of Triad components. Paired T-tests were conducted to determine differences between the three EEE criteria. Using the three EEE criteria, low EA was the most prevalent Triad component among the participants (26-53%). Prevalence of MD was 26% and low BMD prevalence was 15%. There were statistically significant differences between the average EEE using the three EEE criteria (total: 678.16±197.81, structured planned: 331.24 ± 123.56, METs: 413.84±181.07, p < 0.0001). Due to the significant difference between the three EEE criteria, these results suggest the need for further research to identify a standardized method for quantifying female athletes’ EEE.

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