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Australian athletes risk death, infertility, urinary incontinence and more: global expert warns

Sports Medicine Australia 3 mins read
Professor Margo Mountjoy a member of the IOC Working Groups in Mental Health in Athletes as well in the Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport. She is a member of the IOC Medical Commission Games Group, and the WADA Foundation Board.

 

What: Media Call When: 11am Thursday 12 October Where: ASICS Sports Medicine Australia Conference, Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort, Twin Waters, Queensland Who: Professor Margo Mountjoy, lead author of British Journal of Sports Medicine and International Olympic Committee report on the REDs syndrome Media contact: Archie Veera, Sports Medicine Australia, 0419 094 278

Professor Mountjoy is also available for interview 

Australian athletes risk death, infertility, urinary incontinence and more: global expert warns

One of the world’s leading sports medicine experts will today (Thursday 12 October) warn Australian sports medicine professionals, athletes and coaches about the dangers to athletes of expending more energy than they consume.

Up to 80 per cent of athletes face a variety of serious medical conditions – including fatalities, reduced reproductive function, urinary incontinence and mental health issues – because they expend more energy than they take in from their food, a new report for the International Olympic Committee has found.

The report’s lead author Professor Margo Mountjoy has travelled to Australia to deliver a keynote speech to more than 450 Australian sports health professionals at the ASICS Sports Medicine Australia Conference on the Sunshine Coast today (12 October 2023).

About 13 million adults and three million children take part in sport each year, according to the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care.

Professor Mountjoy will outline the key findings of the latest IOC consensus report into the syndrome known as Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs, pronounced reds).

She will also discuss where responsibility for recognising and managing the syndrome lies.

Professor Mountjoy says the long list of risks to athletes of inadequate energy intake also include reduced immunity, impaired growth and development, reduced muscle function, impaired cardiovascular function, sleep disturbance and many other negative impacts.

Professor Mountjoy says: “The true prevalence of relative energy deficiency in sport (REDs) syndrome varies by sport and ranges from 15 per cent and 80 per cent.”

The new IOC report (2023 International Olympic Committee’s consensus statement on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs) aims to alert athletes, their families, colleagues and coaches to the signs and symptoms of low energy availability and provide guidance towards solutions.

“Without informed guidance REDs syndrome can be hard to identify early and requires qualified sport-specific sports medicine professionals to diagnose and manage,” Professor Mountjoy said.

Sports Medicine Australia CEO Jamie Crain said:

“The research is clear: Over training can adversely affect an athlete’s health. Over training and not eating enough can be dangerous.

“The discussion over where responsibility lies for recognising and treating this destructive syndrome will be invaluable. Does responsibility lie with the coach, the individual athlete, or with parents?

“The REDs syndrome can have a destructive impact on the health and performance of any athlete taking part in any sporting code anywhere the country, so Sports Medicine Australia is delighted to have Margo as a keynote speaker at our conference.

“Margo’s keynote will provide sports medicine professionals across Australia with access to the latest evidence-based research so they can better support athletes, and their supporting team, such as coaches and parents.

“Properly matching energy intake to expenditure is vital for optimising performance. If in doubt, athletes and coaches should consult appropriately qualified sports medicine practitioners for advice.”

Media contact: Archie Veera, Sports Medicine Australia, 0419 094 278

 

About Professor Margo Mountjoy:

Margo is a member of the IOC Working Groups in Mental Health in Athletes as well in the Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport. She is Chair of the ASOIF Medical Consultative Group and a member of the IOC Medical Commission Games Group, and the WADA Foundation Board (Deputy). She is a member of the IGF Golf Medical Committee, the World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee as well as the FIFA Scientific Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Executive Board of FINA with the portfolio of sport medicine. She has collaborated on projects with the World Health Organization, unicef and various academic institutions around the world.

Key Facts: Millions of Australians who take part in sport face a variety of dangers because they expend more energy than they take in from their food. Issues include fatalities, reduced reproductive function, urinary incontinence and mental health issues and more. Up to 80 per cent of athletes are at risk, the latest research shows. About us:

About Sports Medicine Australia:

Sports Medicine Australia is the peak multidisciplinary body for sports medicine, sports science and physical activity in Australia. SMA represents the professionals involved in these fields, ranging from medical practitioners and allied health professionals to sports trainers, academics, teachers and others.

 

  Contact details: Media contact: Archie Veera, Sports Medicine Australia, 0419 094 278

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