The female athlete triad among elite Malaysian athletes: prevalence and associated factors

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009;18(2):200-8.


Women participating in a wide range of competitive sports are at higher risk of developing eating disorders, menstrual irregularities and osteoporosis, which are generally referred to as the 'female athlete triad'. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of female athlete triad and factors associated with this condition among athletes participating in different sports. A total of 67 elite female athletes aged between 13-30 years participated in the study and were subdivided into the 'leanness' and 'non-leanness' groups. Eating disorders were assessed using a body image figure rating and the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) with body dissatisfaction (BD), drive for thinness (DT), bulimia (B) and perfectionism (P) subscales. Menstrual irregularity was assessed with a self-reported menstrual history questionnaire. Bone quality was measured using a quantitative ultrasound device at one-third distal radius. Prevalence of the female athlete triad was low (1.9%), but the prevalence for individual triad component was high, especially in the leanness group. The prevalence of subjects who were at risk of menstrual irregularity, poor bone quality and eating disorders were 47.6%, 13.3% and 89.2%, respectively, in the leanness group; and 14.3%, 8.3% and 89.2%, respectively, in the non-leanness group. Since the components of the triad are interrelated, identification of athletes at risk of having any one component of the triad, especially those participating in sports that emphasise a lean physique, is an important aid for further diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Bone Density
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Female Athlete Triad Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Sports*
  • Thinness