Sports & Eating Disorders

Essay by jaegermeister21High School, 11th gradeA+, February 2004

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In sports today there is a pursuit of excellence that is highly valued in athletics and, although participating in sports is usually a self-esteem booster for girls, being involved in some weight-conscious sports might put teenage girls at risk for eating disorders. But new research shows there are some warning signs that parents and coaches can look out for.

An estimated 1,000,000 teenagers are affected in some way by an eating disorder and almost 90 percent of these teens were female. Although, some males, involved in wrestling and long-distance runners primarily, have also fallen victim those statistics are nowhere near as high as females. Over 60 percent of 10th grader girls surveyed by the National Adolescent Student Health Survey reported dieting in the past year, compared to less than 30 percent of 10th grade boys.

A study was conducted showing that participating in a sport or activity that puts pressure on athletes to maintain a specific body shape or weight, such as gymnastics, ballet, or wrestling puts them at risk for developing eating habits that are considered "disordered."

Those behaviors include attempting to lose weight or prevent weight gain by forced vomiting, using diet pills, or taking laxatives or diuretics, and could eventually lead to serious eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Researchers also found that girls who participated in such sports were one and a half times more likely to engage in those risky behaviors than were other girls.

But despite this increased risk, researched the vast majority of girls involved in weight -related sports (91%) show no signs of disordered eating. That finding prompted the study authors to look for other potential factors that might help identify who's most at risk. Among those who participated in weight-dependent sports, girls who had these disordered eating habits were...