-- Adolescent female athletes are more likely to experience significant reproductive and bone health problems if they don’t follow a healthy diet, a new study suggests.
The study was published this month in the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, appeared on “GMA” to explain the findings. He said adolescence is a critical time for building bones, adding that 90 percent of bone mass is gained during that time. Girls who exercise vigorously without taking in enough calories run the risk of developing permanently weak bones.
Besser advised that parents be watchful for the so-called “female triad”: the risk of having an eating disorder, weaker bones and an irregular menstrual cycle. The athletes most at risk are those who participate in sports with endurance, weight restrictions or that emphasize appearance or leanness. This includes gymnastics, dance, figure skating, cheerleading and long-distance running, he said.