Nutritional Risks among Female Athletes

Mary Downes Gastrich, Virginia Quick, Gloria Bachmann, Alexa Mc Donald Moriarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Limited research studies have been conducted on nutritional risks among female athletes. Therefore, this literature review focuses on rigorously designed studies that examined nutritional risks among female athletes with further recommendations for athletes, coaches, parents, and health professionals, which would help improve the health of female athletes. Methods: This review evaluates the most recent research on nutritional risk among female athletes. Inclusion criteria included peer-reviewed studies of original research on human subjects 13 years of age or older; sample size of N = 19; and studies with a thorough description of their sample and methods. A systematic search of the databases PubMed and Cochrane for published studies (from year 2000 to year 2019) was conducted to identify articles that met inclusion criteria. Bibliographies of identified articles were also searched for relevant articles. Results: Of the 11 studies that met our inclusion criteria, most were mainly cross-sectional in design with few rigorous controls. Findings reveal that strategies to enhance nutrition patterns among female athletes may be important to avoid risks of disordered eating, eating disorders, low energy availability, and symptoms of relative energy deficiency in sports. In addition, general nutrition knowledge is lacking among athletes, sports teams, and coaches. Conclusions: This review highlights the scarcity of evidence-based, rigorous studies examining nutritional risks among female athletes. Findings suggest that interdisciplinary working groups, comprising physicians, sports dietitians, and other supportive health professionals, would be beneficial for female athletes in helping to improve their overall diet, performance, and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-702
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • dietary patterns
  • disordered eating
  • eating disorders
  • female athlete
  • nutrition


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutritional Risks among Female Athletes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this