Study protocol: Prevalence of low energy availability and its relation to health and performance among female football players.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionRosenvinge, J. H., Dasa, M. S., Kristoffersen, M., Pettersen, G., Sundgot-Borgen, J., Sagen, J. V., & Friborg, O. (2022). Study protocol: prevalence of low energy availability and its relation to health and performance among female football players. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 8(1). 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001219
Enduring low energy availability (LEA) is associated with several potentially serious physiological and mental conditions. LEA has been found highly prevalent among female elite athletes within endurance sports, thus hampering athletes’ health and performance. The prevalence and the underpinning risk factors of LEA among female elite football players are less studied. One reason is that the existing self-report measures and technological devices to monitor energy intake and expenditure are inadequately adapted to capture the nature of the physical activity and energy expenditure among football players and are thus inaccurate. The present paper outlines a study protocol addressing the prevalence of LEA, the measurement of LEA and the correlations of LEA in terms of health and performance in female football players. Four studies will be conducted with the following aims (1) to evaluate the accuracy of global positioning systems (GPS)-based devices to monitor energy expenditure with indirect calorimetry as the gold standard, (2) to assess energy intake, quantify energy expenditure and investigate energy availability through self-report instruments, double labelled water (DLW) and GPS monitoring devices, (3) to determine the point prevalence of LEA using self-report instruments, DLW, dual-X-ray-absorptiometry (DXA) to quantify muscle and bone mass distribution and density, and a battery of hormonal analyses, and (4) to explore whether the prevalence of LEA varies across a full football season. Measures covering mental symptoms and psychological resources will be included, and a selection of biological measures derived from study 3. Measurements of DXA and DLW are resource-demanding and will be collected from one professional club (N~20 women). In contrast, the remaining data will be collected from four professional clubs (N~60 women) located in Bergen, the largest city within the Western region of Norway. Overall procedures and biobank storage procedures have been approved for data collection that will end in December 2024.