Oct 11, 2023
NCA&T study links low-energy availability in black athletes

A pilot study led by researchers at North Carolina A&T State University has shown a correlation between hypertension and low-energy availability in black Division I athletes.

Among the four sports profiled, basketball and track and field are the most demanding cardio-wise because the athletes in those sports use the most energy. To link this certain group of athletes to hypertension and low energy availability is a shock to most but the study shows a logical explanation for the link.

low-energyA recent story from AndScape.com detailed the study and its findings. Below is an excerpt from the AndScape.com story.

For Troy Purdom, study lead and assistant professor in North Carolina A&T’s department of kinesiology, the foundation of the study was adhering to updated guidelines which have been in effect for five years.

“We used the revised American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology blood pressure standard,” Purdom said. “The reason why they were revised in 2018 was what they found was considered pre-hypertensive which in the old guidelines used to be just a general warning sign. It turned out in a five-year follow-up there’s a high percentage [chance] that those with pre-hypertension became hypertensive.”

To illustrate a link between low-energy availability, nutritional content, and hypertension in black Division I athletes, Purdom and his associates recruited 23 Division I athletes spanning four sports. Thirteen men and 10 women represented volleyball (five), track and field (nine), football (one) and men’s basketball (eight). The average age of the group was 19 years old. The participants also averaged 5-feet-10, 170 pounds, and 19.2% body fat.

Besides monitoring blood pressure from a cuff, Purdom used an eight-point analysis device to measure body composition and a treadmill stress test to evaluate cardiorespiratory fitness. After the study participants sat for five minutes or more, Purdom measured and evaluated their blood pressure according to the revised guidelines.

Of the 23 athletes recruited for the study, 14 were shown to have hypertension. Within the affected group, 87% were found to be calorically and nutrient deficient in micronutrients such as poly-unsaturated fatty acids (-29.6%), omega-3 (-26.0%), iron (-46.0%) and sodium (-14.2%).

According to Purdom, these numbers suggest a perception that the nutritional link between these athletes and hypertension is them not eating healthy. It suggests a breakdown either in the athletes’ responsibility to monitor their diet or an issue with what’s being served during team meals. Surprisingly, the issue isn’t in the quality of food; it’s in the quantity. The data in the study showed that the athletes who did not eat enough were 10 times more likely to have high blood pressure.

» ALSO SEE: Study Suggests Plant-Based Diets Support Athletic Performance

“Calories are the fuel that we put in our bodies that helps our bodies run off of energy,” Purdom explains. “So if we don’t eat at adequate energy, we are going to see high blood pressure as a result, so much that we found a moderate relationship among our sample that the less they eat, the higher their blood pressure will get.”

To read the full story from AndScape.com, click here. 

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