Premenarcheal gymnasts possess higher bone mineral density than controls

Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, Christopher M. Modlesky, Patrick J. O'Connor, Richard D. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine bone mineral density (BMD), body composition, dietary intake, physical activity, and energy expenditure (EE) in premenarcheal gymnasts (N = 16; age = 10.5 ± 1.5 yr) in comparison to age- (± 0.35 yr), height- (± 2.6 cm), and weight- (± 1.5 kg) matched controls (N = 16; age = 10.5 ± 1.3 yr). It was hypothesized that premenarcheal gymnasts would have higher BMD, fat-free soft tissue (FFST) mass, physical activity, and EE, but lower fat mass, percent body fat, and dietary intake than controls. Methods: Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to measure whole body, femur, and lumbar spine (L1-4) BMD, FFST, and fat mass. Three-day diet records were used to estimate mean daily dietary energy, macronutrient, and calcium intakes. Physical activity and EE were estimated by the Seven-Day Physical Activity Recall. Results: The BMD means of the gymnasts were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than controls at all sites, except whole body, as were lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral apparent densities, despite lower protein intake expressed per kg FFST mass. Fat mass was significantly lower in gymnasts versus controls (P < 0.01) as was percent body fat (P < 0.001). Very hard physical activity during weekdays (P < 0.0001) and estimated EE (P < 0.01) were significantly higher in gymnasts compared with controls. Conclusion: Premenarcheal gymnasts have higher BMD than age-, height-, and weight-matched controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Calcium intake
  • Energy expenditure
  • Energy intake
  • Female athlete
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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