Monday, October 03, 2011

Athletes and Eating Disorders

 Getting Back in the Game…of Life

By Kim Dennis, MD, Medical Director, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Lemont, Ill.

Eating disorders are an epidemic in the United States today. One population increasingly at risk for developing anorexia or bulimia is athletes. Athletes are far more prone to eating disorders than non-athletes, especially for females. The risk increases significantly for those involved in sports that necessitate a certain body type or weight, when success tends to be more appearance-based than performance-based, and when the athlete is competing at an elite level.  This includes sports such as ice skating, gymnastics, wrestling, diving, rowing, distance running, ballet, and other forms of dance.
Those taking part in judged sports are particularly at risk. Research indicates that female athletes in judged sports have a 13 percent prevalence of eating disorders, compared to just 3 percent in the general population. Factors that contribute to risk for developing an eating disorder include: endurance sports, sports with weight categories, individual sports and “lean" sports. Sports with revealing clothing are rapidly moving to the top of this list, as sports attire continues to shrink. With every passing year, players on the tennis circuit or professional volleyball teams are revealing far more skin than ever before.   

Athletes struggling with eating disorders are not unlike non-atheletes dealing with similar issues. Highly competitive, they rarely admit to having a problem, for fear of losing playing time or displeasing coaches, teammates or family members.  They may incur more injuries and have declining health, as they restrict food intake and engage in rigorous exercise schedules. Often times, these dangerous behaviors go unrecognized by coaches, parents and teammates. In fact, these very behaviors are frequently encouraged by coaches and/or parents who believe that weight loss and extreme training will give their athlete a competitive edge. Tragically, the cost may be the young person’s life, since anorexia and bulimia are potentially fatal illnesses...finish reading article

1 comment:

Help eating disorders said...

This is a very good post, thanks for sharing as I will be sharing this in group today!!!!