Food for Thought
Adolescent girls who compete in athletic events sometimes fall victim to disordered eating, which has been linked to low bone mineral density (BMD). To explore the specific eating behaviors that lead to low BMD, researchers recently compared the attitudes and concerns of teenage girls who were endurance runners.
The study participants were 93 female competitive cross-country runners ranging in age from 13 to 18. The adolescents were assessed for different types of disordered eating, such as weight concern, shape concern, eating concern and dietary restraint, along with BMD history.
After adjusting for other variables, such as menstrual irregularities, the researchers found that dietary restraint was the behavior most associated with low BMD. Concerns regarding weight, shape and eating (or any combination of these three concerns) were not significantly associated with low BMD.
Reporting in the January issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers concluded that “in adolescent female runners, dietary restraint may be the disordered eating behavior most associated with negative bone health effects.”