Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Eating Disorders and Athletic Participation :: Health Nutrition Sports Papers
Eating Disorders and Athletic Participation Over the past few decades, there has been a great increase in the prevalence of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa which have emerged as major psychological and health problems. This increase in eating disorders has resulted from the intense societal pressure to diet and conform to an unrealistic weight and body size. For the general population of women, the lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa is approximately 0.7%, and that of bulimia nervosa is as high as 10.3% ( Taub & Blinde, 1992). Since many athletes contain similar behaviors to those with eating disorders, there has also been an increase in interest in whether athletes are at a risk for eating disorders. An increase risk of eating disorders among athletes has been proposed for several reasons. For starters, athletes tend to exemplify many personality characteristics such as perfectionism and the strive for high achievement which are found in patients with eating disorders. Other correlates include high self-expectation, competitiveness, compulsiveness, drive, self-motivation, and great pressure to be thin (Piracy, 1999). In order to improve performance, athletes may need to maintain a strong control and constantly monitor their body shape. This behavior has been identified as a risk factor for both anorexia and bulimia (Piracy, 99). In addition to the societal pressure to be thin, athletes have extra pressure for increased performance and ranking, which make them more cautious of their body size and shape leading them to become more susceptible for eating disorders. Although these characteristics may predispose athletes to eating disorders, some of these behaviors can also be beneficial to their sport. For example, the drive for perfectionism can help increase athletic performance and success. It may also help in other areas of their live such as school and in social relationships. Studies Several of the early studies which attempted to estimate the prevalence of eating disorders among athletes yielded many mixed results. Some studies labeled college athletes as high risk, whereas others have found no support for such a label. The estimates widely varied going from 1% in anorexia and up to 30% in bulimia. In 1993, Sundgot-Borden and Larsen compared eating disorder correlates across sport categories with female college students and a female clinical population. Their results revealed that athletes involved in endurance and ball game sports did not differ on eating disorder correlates, and were not at risk for eating disorder correlates.