Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Body Fat of Athletes and Controls

Using magnetic resonance imaging for direct quantification of body fat showed that athletes who did not differ in body weight from nonathletes had 30-40% less fat than the nonathletes. Muscles are heavy (80% water), so the body weight of an athlete does not necessarily indicate body composition.

Athletes had a more sensitive insulin response to a glucose tolerance test compared to controls. The insulin area under the curve of athletes and controls was significantly related to their total fat as a percentage of total volume, determined by magnetic resonance imaging.

Athletes with menstrual disorders had significantly decreased subcutaneous and internal fat, overall and at all regional sites, compared to controls. The extent of estradiol 2-hydroxylation to 2-hydroxyoestrone, determined by radiometric analysis, was significantly (p = 0.005) inversely related to total fat as a percentage of total volume and to subcutaneous fat as a percentage of total volume (p = 0.004) overall and at each of the regional fat depots. This inverse relationship may be a determinant of the anovulatory cycles and amenorrhea of excessively lean women by a feedback to the hypothalamus since 2-hydroxyoestrone is antiestrogenic.

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