SOURCE: Caring Online

June 06, 2012 03:00 ET

'Female Athlete Triad' Endangers Young Women's Health, Warns Dr. Gregory Jantz of

EDMONDS, WA--(Marketwire - Jun 6, 2012) - All serious athletes want to be more competitive in their chosen sports, and for many, that includes controlling their body weight. That can be a healthy thing, up to a point. Too often, however, young female athletes try to shed too many pounds and fall victim to a trio of health disorders commonly known as the "female athlete triad," says Dr. Gregory Jantz, an internationally known eating disorder specialist and bestselling author who operates, a website that provides information on eating disorders and treatment options. Dr. Jantz also founded The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Edmonds, WA, a residential treatment facility for those struggling with eating disorders and other major life challenges.

The three parts of the female athlete triad are disordered eating, osteoporosis and amenorrhea, or cessation of menstruation. A female athlete's periods may stop, and a younger girl affected by the triad might not even get her first period. The conditions of osteoporosis and amenorrhea result from reduced estrogen levels caused by the combined effects of poor nutrition and intense exercise.

"Girls and young women who actively train, practice and compete in sports are likely to suffer severe health consequences if they can't or won't treat their bodies right because of an eating disorder," says Dr. Jantz.

The disordered eating component of the triad can be a severe condition such as anorexia or bulimia, or it may take a milder form such as orthorexia, an unofficial term that describes overly "correct" eating. A female athlete may label too many nutritious foods as "bad" and exclude them from her diet at a cost to her physical health. For example, she may pass up all dairy foods containing fat and deprive her body of calcium as a consequence.

Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density that normally affects much older women, can be particularly harmful for a young athlete. Weak bones make athletes more vulnerable to fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries. Adolescence is also a time when the body is building bone mass that's supposed to give the skeleton strength for decades to come. A young woman's skeletal health can thus suffer permanently from the effects of the female athlete triad.

For more information on conditions such as the female athlete triad as well as other eating disorders, visit

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