Participation in sports is highly encouraged for girls – involvement in these organized activities has been proven to help improve girls’ social lives and prevent teen pregnancies. And exercise has been shown to boost mood and decrease depression in women.
But with increasing pressure in today’s society to be extremely thin, some females take involvement in athletics or exercise too far. Fear of becoming overweight or out of shape can lead to the “Female Athlete Triad,” a condition that can lead to bone loss, stoppage of menstrual periods, and eating disorders.
Girls who participate in sports that emphasize thinness, such swimming or gymnastics, are especially at risk. Parents and coaches should not encourage weight loss, and should monitor young athletes’ eating habits to ensure they are not skipping meals or eating very little.
Any woman who may be experiencing the Triad should seek advice from a qualified sports medicine or exercise science professional, counselor, or dietician.
Additional information on the Female Athlete Triad:
The Female Athlete Triad Coalition, which includes an updated ACSM Position Stand