How Can Teachers & Coaches Help to Prevent Eating Disorders?

How Can Teachers & Coaches Help to Prevent Eating Disorders?

Sports are a fun and active way to improve physical health, but participation in sports activities also carries a host of positive mental benefits as well. People who play sports generally see their ability to cooperate with teammates improve, find they have a stronger commitment to self discipline, and are more practiced at making decisions.

But sports can also carry pressure that bears down on those playing. And not just on field pressure, but off field burdens that can put some at risk for mental or emotional problems. One common issue in some sports is the risk of eating disorders. For sports that emphasize appearance or strict weight control, such as gymnastics or wrestling, athletes can find their attitudes toward food drifting into dangerous territory.

Student athletes are at particular risk for developing eating disorders. While women are more likely than men to be at risk, men are also subjected to these health conditions. And though genetics do play a role, it is social and cultural pressures that often push athletes into these damaging behaviors and attitudes.

The most effective way to prevent eating disorders in at-risk athletes is involvement with mentor figures. Particularly coaches, who hopefully will be on the look out for changes in their athletes behaviors or weight. A strong coach figure can moderate destructive personality changes, and keep athletes safe even when they’re not playing.

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