Most female football players are healthy. However, recent findings from our studies on Norwegian female elite athletes also show that football players are dieting and experiencing eating disorders, menstrual dysfunction and stress fractures. Dieting behaviour and lack of knowledge of the energy needs of the athlete often leads to energy deficit, menstrual dysfunction and increased risk of bone mass loss. Although dieting, eating disorders and menstrual dysfunction are less common than in many other sports, it is important to be aware of the problem as eating disorders in female athletes can easily be missed. Therefore, individuals, including the players themselves, coaches, administrators and family members, who are involved in competitive football, should be educated about the three interrelated components of the female athlete triad (disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction and low bone mass), and strategies should be developed to prevent, recognise and treat the triad components.
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Published Online First 3 July 2007
Competing interests: None declared.
Guest editors: Jiri Dvorak, Astrid Junge, Collin Fuller and Paul McCrory
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