Cross-sectional evidence of suppressed bone mineral accrual among female adolescent runners

J Bone Miner Res. 2010 Aug;25(8):1850-7. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.63.


We aimed to evaluate patterns of bone mineral accrual among a cross-sectional sample of female adolescent runners and girls participating in a nonendurance running sport. One-hundred and eighty-three interscholastic competitive female athletes (age 16.0 +/- 0.1 years), 93 endurance runners and 90 nonrunners, completed a menstrual and sports history questionnaire, had their height and weight measured, and underwent a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan for the measurements of body composition and bone mass. For the majority of analyses, the girls were separated into four groups according to their age (13 to 14 years, 15 years, 16 years, and 17 to 18 years). Runners' height, weight, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, lean tissue mass, number of menstrual cycles in the past year, and months of participation in a non-lean-build/variable-impact-loading sport were significantly lower than mean values for nonrunners. Although bone mass rose at all sites in the nonrunners between the ages of 13 to 14 years and 17 to 18 years, no such increase was noted in the runners. Runners compared with nonrunners exhibited significantly lower body weight and height-adjusted total body and lumbar spine bone mineral content (BMC) values and lower bone mineral density (BMD) Z-score values among the older (16 years and/or 17 to 18 years) but not younger (13 to 14 years and/or 15 years) age groups. These findings suggest that the runners, in contrast to the nonrunners, exhibited a suppressed bone mineral accrual pattern, which supports the notion that female adolescent endurance runners may be at risk for inadequate bone mass gains and thus a low peak BMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / anatomy & histology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Menstruation / physiology
  • Organ Size / physiology