‘Female Athlete Report will help us all bridge the knowledge gap’ – Mhairi

Friday 5th May 2023

Read the Female Athlete Report

Athlete-led organisations Project RED-S and Kyniska Advocacy have launched their Female Athlete Health Report.

Both organisations advocate for progressive policies and safe, sustainable practices in sport and are on a mission to determine how athlete currently perceive certain health-related issues such as body image, menstrual cycles, and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S).

Kate Seary and Mhairi Maclennan, Kyniska Advocacy Co-Founders, have a strong track record in influencing sports policy, gaining considerable support for their recent campaign to stamp out sexual violence.

They are joined by Pippa Woolven, who founded Project RED-S in 2021 in an attempt to provide peer-to-peer support for the estimated 58 percent of athletes at risk of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport.

Pippa is supported by a group of world-class athletes and clinical experts who are striving to change the culture in sport around food, body, and optimal performance.

Female Athlete Health Report Data Infographic

Over the past few months, the team have been gathering anonymised data about athlete health, asking athletes of all ages, genders, abilities and ethnicities questions geared around menstrual cycles, eating habits and body image.

In this report, the team makes four key recommendations that would go some way to closing the female athlete health knowledge gap.

The Female Athlete Health Report is based on responses from 769 athletes.

It found:

*91 percent of those who responded felt they had worried about calories at some stage

*73 percent of those who responded felt they ‘do not look like an athlete’

*36 percent of those who responded revealed they had missed periods in belief that is normal for an active person

Mhairi Maclennan at the Lindsays National XC in 2020 when she won gold (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Mhairi Maclennan of Kyniska Advocacy said: ‘This research highlights the critically important role that both coaches and NGBs can play in closing this female athlete health knowledge gap.

‘That in consequence will enhance the overall health and subsequently boost the enjoyment and the performance for women and girls in sport.

‘To not prioritise robust and comprehensive education for all coaches, at all levels, on female athlete health, is to set them up to fail their duty of care to female athletes.

‘It is in this context that we strongly encourage NGBs to read the report in full and to act on the recommendations laid out.’

Kate Seary of Kyniska Advocacy added: ‘The shocking results from this report on female athlete health are the symptoms of the historical lack of resources, funding, and scientific study made available to women’s sport.

‘Across the board, athletes and coaches are misinformed on the basics of female athlete health, in turn limiting the performance potential, and most importantly, the health, of female athletes across the UK.’

Pippa Woolven, Project RED-S, said: ‘When we released the survey, we were overwhelmed with the response from those who wanted to take part.

‘Thanks to over 750 athletes completed it, we’ve been able to build a picture of what we’re getting, and what we’re missing, by way of female athlete health support across the UK.’

*The survey took in athletes from a number of sports including endurance runners, cycling and rowing.

Learn more about RED-S – article on our website from April 2020

Tags: Female Athlete Health Report, Kyniska Advocacy, Mhairi Maclennan, RED-S

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