Eating disorders affecting Athletes on the rise

Athletes are seen as people who are at the peak of physical fitness. As such, they are individuals many would least expect to suffer from an eating disorder. This is not necessarily the case. Recently gathered statistics indicate that over fifty percent of athletes contend with some form of eating disorder.

Traditionally in the media, compulsive eating disorders are linked with young pubescent female teenagers. In previous articles we have highlighted the fact that this condition is not gender specific. Now medical practitioners and eating disorder clinics alike are becoming more and more aware of the rise in patients who have a strong connection with the sporting industry. Statistics have shown that the amount of athletes who are affected by an eating disorder is an enormous 62%.

The source of compulsive eating disorders in the sports world

Compulsive eating disorders are common in all sports but they tend to be more apparent in activities that are likely to require frequent weight checks and complex training, or where there is a need for the competitor to be desirably small or thin. It is also more evident for the condition to take the form of bulimia than Anorexia. The latter is a wasting disease where the sufferer looses strength energy and physical power whereas in Bulimia, because of the purge-binge cycle, the sportsperson can remain strong and physically active.

The condition is apparent in the sports world for three main reasons:

  1. Similar to the world of modelling, a thin, slim lithe body frame is needed to be competitive.
  2. It is highly likely that our sportsmen and women will be mentored by coaches whose sole aim is to train to win. The coaches desire for a strict diet to be in place may blur the fact that the diet maybe obsessive or unhealthy due to its restrictions.
  3. By default, sports people have to be determined competitive personalities who are likely to push themselves on every level. This determination may well be focused into their eating habits at the sacrifice of a healthy body.

Athletes with eating disorders are in more danger

With all compulsive eating disorders the strength and power of the body is more vulnerable to damage, sudden shock or virus. These factors are intensified for the athlete because while the body’s energies are reduced it is likely it is also being placed under physical stress and pressure.  As well as there being a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest there is also the added danger of medical complications such as electrolyte imbalances and cardiac arrhythmias. Many experts in the field now feel that the education in good eating habits, including food nutrition should be extended to the sporting world on a large scale.

Life Works provides first rate support and guidance in the treatment of eating disorders. To discuss how we can help you, please call 0808 159 5660 or click here to complete a short enquiry form.


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