Auditing the representation of female versus male athletes in sports science and sports medicine research: evidence-based performance supplements

Smith, E.S., McKay, A.K.A., Kuikman, M., Ackerman, K.E., Harris, R., Elliott-Sale, K.J. ORCID: 0000-0003-1122-5099, Stellingwerff, T. and Burke, L.M., 2022. Auditing the representation of female versus male athletes in sports science and sports medicine research: evidence-based performance supplements. Nutrients, 14 (5): 953. ISSN 2072-6643

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Abstract

Although sports nutrition guidelines promote evidence-based practice, it is unclear whether women have been adequately included in the underpinning research. In view of the high usage rates of performance supplements by female athletes, we conducted a standardised audit of the literature supporting evidence-based products: β-alanine, caffeine, creatine, glycerol, nitrate/beetroot juice and sodium bicarbonate. Within 1826 studies totalling 34,889 participants, just 23% of participants were women, although 34% of studies included at least one woman. Across different supplements, 0–8% of studies investigated women exclusively, while fewer (0–2%) were specifically designed to compare sex-based responses. The annual publication of female-specific studies was ~8 times fewer than those investigating exclusively male cohorts. Interestingly, 15% of the female participants were classified as international/world-class athletes, compared with 7% of men. Most studies investigated performance outcomes but displayed poorer representation of women (16% of participants), whereas health-focussed studies had the greatest proportion of female participants (35%). Only 14% of studies including women attempted to define menstrual status, with only three studies (~0.5%) implementing best practice methodologies to assess menstrual status. New research should target the efficacy of performance supplements in female athletes, and future sports nutrition recommendations should specifically consider how well female athletes have contributed to the evidence-base.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Nutrients
Creators: Smith, E.S., McKay, A.K.A., Kuikman, M., Ackerman, K.E., Harris, R., Elliott-Sale, K.J., Stellingwerff, T. and Burke, L.M.
Publisher: MDPI AG
Date: 23 February 2022
Volume: 14
Number: 5
ISSN: 2072-6643
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.3390/nu14050953DOI
1525848Other
Rights: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 16 Mar 2022 16:51
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 16:51
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/45905

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