For many years, the Female Athlete Triad was a recognised condition characterised by:
– energy deficiency with or without disordered eating
– menstrual disturbances/amenorrhoea
– bone loss/osteoporosis.
However, this classification failed to recognise that male athletes (whilst obviously not suffering from amenorrhoea) could also be at risk of this condition. The new name: Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (Red-S) more correctly identifies what the problem is without suggesting that only women are affected.
In my opinion, Red-S doesn’t diminish the condition in the same way as the term ‘female athlete triad’ which sounds like something trivial. This BBC article tells the stories of Anna Boniface and Sam Woodfield: The athletes starving themselves for success
You may also want to listen to the accompanying radio broadcast: Eating disorders in sports (50-minutes)
Whilst not wishing to suggest that I have ever suffered from Red-S, about 10 years ago I went through a period of disordered eating for many months. I lost a significant amount of weight, whilst also training for 15+ hours a week. I experienced fatigue and amenorrhoea. If I hadn’t made changes to my diet and exercise levels, I believe my health would have significantly deteriorated.
Read more about Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport
- Boniface, A. (2019). The RED-S Flag. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport – Can physiotherapists play a key role in early detection? (via Passle). [online] Anna Boniface. Available at: http://insights.annaboniface.com/post/102eqza/the-red-s-flag-relative-energy-deficiency-in-sport-can-physiotherapists-play-a [Accessed 10 Feb. 2019].
- Mountjoy, M., Sundgot-Borgen, J., Burke, L., Carter, S., Constantini, N., Lebrun, C., Meyer, N., Sherman, R., Steffen, K., Budgett, R. and Ljungqvist, A. (2014). The IOC consensus statement: beyond the Female Athlete Triad—Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). British Journal of Sports Medicine, [online] 48(7), pp.491-497. Available at: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/7/491.
- Schaumberg, K. (2019). What is Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S)?. [online] Exchanges. Available at: https://uncexchanges.org/2017/04/06/what-is-relative-energy-deficiency-in-sport-red-s/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2019].
- Scott-Dalgleish, J. (2019). Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) Practical Considerations for Endurance Athletes – Endurance Sports Nutritionist. [online] Endurance Sports Nutritionist. Available at: https://www.endurancesportsnutritionist.co.uk/blog/relative-energy-deficiency-sports-red-s-practical-considerations-endurance-atheletes/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2019].