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Assessment of nutritional knowledge in female athletes susceptible to the Female Athlete Triad syndrome

Philippa Raymond-Barker1, Andrea Petroczi2* and Eleanor Quested3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK

2 School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK

3 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK

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Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2007, 2:10  doi:10.1186/1745-6673-2-10

Published: 27 September 2007



The study aimed to i) assess nutritional knowledge in female athletes susceptible to the Female Athlete Triad (FAT) syndrome and to compare with controls; and ii) to compare nutritional knowledge of those who were classified as being 'at risk' for developing FAT syndrome and those who are 'not at risk'.


In this study, participants completed General Nutritional Knowledge Questionnaire (GNKQ), the Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26) and survey measures of training/physical activity, menstrual and skeletal injury history. The sample consisted of 48 regional endurance athletes, 11 trampoline gymnasts and 32 untrained controls. Based on proxy measures for the FAT components, participants were classified being 'at risk' or 'not at risk' and nutrition knowledge scores were compared for the two groups. Formal education related to nutrition was considered.


A considerably higher percentage of athletes were classified 'at risk' of menstrual dysfunction than controls (28.8% and 9.4%, respectively) and a higher percentage scored at or above the cutoff value of 20 on the EAT-26 test among athletes than controls (10.2% and 3.1%, respectively). 8.5% of athletes were classified 'at risk' for bone mineral density in contrast to none from the control group. Nutrition knowledge and eating attitude appeared to be independent for both athletes and controls. GNKQ scores of athletes were higher than controls but the differences between the knowledge of 'at risk' and 'not at risk' athletes and controls were inconsequential. Formal education in nutrition or closely related subjects does not have an influence on nutrition knowledge or on being classified as 'at risk' or 'not at risk'.


The lack of difference in nutrition knowledge between 'at risk' and 'not at risk' athletes suggests that lack of information is not accountable for restricted eating associated with the Female Athlete Triad.