Low bone mineral density is two to three times more prevalent in non-athletic premenopausal women than in elite athletes: a comprehensive controlled study
M. Torstveit and J. Sundgot-Borgen
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2005; 39:282-287
This study compared bone mineral density (BMD), investigated factors associated with BMD, and examined the prevalence of low BMD in athletes and non-athletic controls.
The study included a questionnaire measurement of BMD, and a clinical interview. Participants were 938 Norwegian female athletes on national teams and an aged matched random sample of 900 non-athletic controls.
Mean total body BMD was higher in athletes than in controls, and higher in high impact sports athletes than in medium impact and low impact sports athletes. In athletes, body weight and impact loading sports were positively associated, and percent body fat and eating disorders were negatively associated with total body BMD. Body weight and weight bearing activities were positively associated and menstrual dysfunction was negatively associated with total body BMD in controls. A higher percentage of controls (28.3%) than athletes (10.7%) had low BMD.
Conclusions. Female elite athletes have 3–20% higher BMD than non-athletic controls and high impact sports athletes have 3–22% higher BMD compared with medium and low impact sports athletes. Low BMD is two to three times more common in non-athletic premenopausal women than in elite athletes.