Body Composition and Bone Health Status of Jockeys: Current Findings, Assessment Methods and Classification Criteria

Arthur Dunne, Giles Warrington, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Michael Harrison, SarahJane Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Jockeys are unlike other weight-making athletes as the sport of horse racing requires strict weight management to meet the racing stipulations, protracted working hours and an extended racing season with limited downtime. Several studies have reported on the body composition and bone status of male and female professional and retired jockeys, yet the variety of assessment techniques, lack of standardised testing protocols and classification inconsistency make interpretation and comparison between studies problematic. This review aimed to appraise the existing body composition and bone health evidence in jockeys and evaluate the assessment methods and classification criteria used. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been used most frequently in jockey research to assess body composition and bone status, while various generic skinfold equations have been used to predict body fat percentage. Evidence indicates flat jockeys are now taller and heavier than the data reported in earlier studies. Absolute fat mass has steadily increased in male jockeys in the last decade. The bone status of male jockeys remains a concern as constant low bone density (BMD) is evident in a large percentage of young and experienced professional jockeys. Due to limited studies and variations in assessment methods, further research is required to investigate bone turnover markers in male and female jockeys. A standardised testing protocol using internationally recognised assessment guidelines is critical for the accurate interpretation and evaluation of body composition and bone health measurements. Furthermore, establishing jockey-specific BMD and bone turnover reference ranges should be considered using existing and future data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Pages (from-to)23
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2022


  • Body composition
  • Body fat
  • Bone health
  • Bone mineral density
  • Bone strength
  • DXA
  • Horseracing
  • Weight making


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