Dr. Margo Mountjoy, the clinical and academic lead at U of G’s Health and Performance Centre, spoke about the little-known problem of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) for a column in The Globe and Mail.
RED-S occurs when athletes don’t consume enough calories to keep up with their energy needs, resulting in nutrient deficiencies that lead to injury or illness. The condition is not considered an eating disorder as many athletes who develop it do not deliberately avoid calories.
Mountjoy, a sports medicine physician, is an expert on RED-S and co-wrote a paper on the topic along with colleagues from the International Olympic Committee.
She said physicians and coaches often miss RED-S until an athlete develops a stress fracture or other ailment. She believes the problem is more widespread among athletes than many think but is often missed.
A former elite synchronized swimmer, Mountjoy has worked with the International Olympic Committee, World Health Organization, FINA, and other groups on sports-related issues.