Fitness is widely viewed as a positive attribute and goal. However, it can, like many good things, have a shadow side. It’s one thing to want to look great in skinny jeans, or climb stairs without losing breathe, or even achieve a major life goal, like running a marathon. Unfortunately, though, for some athletes, the pursuit of trim can overshadow the pursuit of health. For some athletes, an unhealthy obsession with weight can lead to an eating disorder. What’s true for ordinary athletes is even more likely for high-functioning, superior athletes, as the pressure these individuals face to keep improving their fitness and to stay within a certain weight parameter can be overwhelming. Often, a difficult relationship with food is fostered, because the athlete must stick to a diet, especially during training. Also some types of physical conditioning espouse an especially lean physique, with minimal body fat, such as that found on dancers. It really is not difficult to see why eating disorders find fertile soil in the lives of some athletes.
- 1In fact, research has shown that eating disorders are more prevalent among elite athletes compared to the general populations. Elite athletes face incredible pressure to perform at a certain level, as scholarships or funds are dependent on their ability to be successful at their sport.
- 2It is not uncommon for athletes to eat a certain way during their active training season, which may include strict dieting rules, such as cutting out all carbohydrates, eating low fat, not allowing any desserts or sugar foods, etc.
- 3Some of the most effective intervention strategies for athletes may be early identification. Increased education and understanding about eating disorders, particularly among coaches, trainers, and those who interact with athletes, along with screening tools, can be potentially helpful in early intervention.
In fact, research has shown that eating disorders are more prevalent among elite athletes compared to the general populations . Elite athletes face incredible pressure to perform at a certain level, as scholarships or funds are dependent on their ability to be successful at their sport.
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