Risk of Low Energy Availability in National and International Level Paralympic Athletes: An Exploratory Investigation

Date

2021

Authors

Pritchett, Kelly
DiFolco, Alicia
Glasgow, Savannah
Pritchett, Robert
Williams, Katy
Stellingwerff, Trent
Roney, Patricia
Scaroni, Susannah
Broad, Elizabeth

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Nutrients

Abstract

(1) Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the symptoms of low energy availability (LEA) and risk of relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) symptoms in para-athletes using a multi-parameter approach. (2) Methods: National level para-athletes (n = 9 males, n = 9 females) completed 7-day food and activity logs to quantify energy availability (EA), the LEA in Females Questionnaire (LEAF-Q), dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans to assess bone mineral density (BMD), and hormonal blood spot testing. (3) Results: Based on EA calculations, no athlete was at risk for LEA (females < 30 kcal·kg−1 FFM·day−1; and males < 25 kcal·kg−1 FFM·day−1; thresholds for able-bodied (AB) subjects). Overall, 78% of females were “at risk” for LEA using the LEAF-Q, and 67% reported birth control use, with three of these participants reporting menstrual dysfunction. BMD was clinically low in the hip (<−2 z-score) for 56% of female and 25% of male athletes (4) Conclusions: Based on calculated EA, the risk for RED-S appears to be low, but hormonal outcomes suggest that RED-S risk is high in this para-athlete population. This considerable discrepancy in various EA and RED-S assessment tools suggests the need for further investigation to determine the true prevalence of RED-S in para-athlete populations.

Description

Keywords

RED-S, energy availability, Paralympic, spinal cord injury, bone health, reproductive hormones

Citation

Pritchett, K., DiFolco, A., Glasgow, S., Pritchett, R., Williams, K., Stellingwerff, T., … Broad, E. (2021). Risk of Low Energy Availability in National and International Level Paralympic Athletes: An Exploratory Investigation. Nutrients, 13(3), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030979.