Eating Disorders In Athletes

It is a belief by many people that athletes understands and knows their latest fitness and their health information. However, this is not the case because many athletes having eating disorders which affects their health. There are eating disorders, which affect athletes both male and female in all parts of the world. The eating disorders affect the male and female athletes affect the health of the athletes, which leads to problems in their performance and impairs their health. There are many causes, which lead the athletes to form the eating disorders.

Pressure from the coaches who are supposed to be the ones who are more concerned about the health and the performance of the athletes is one of the main cause, which leads to development of eating disorders among many athletes. (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). It should be the responsibility of parents and coaches to have a watch on the weight and eating habits of their children and athletes so that they can assist them on preventing eating disorders from occurring. There are several types of eating disorders, which occurs among the athletes.

This is a problem, which affects female athletes more than the male athletes. This is a situation where an athlete who has this problem does not eat enough food, which is supposed to maintain a healthy weight. This makes the athlete to weigh less weight that is required One usually weighs 80 percent less that the normal weight for her height and weight. This also leads the affected person to have irregular or no menstruation. Most of the athletes with this problem usually consider themselves to be fat. This makes them feel easier to diet than on how to deal with the problem in a direct way. According to DR.

Lucas who is a psychiatrist at the Mayo clinic Anorexia usually occurs between 0. 5 percent to 1% of most girls who are between the ages of thirteen to seventeen years. Athletes who suffer from this problem starts their diets with good intentions and in the process the get carried away. This problem affects athletes girls who are devoted to be overachievers. These are the athletes who are so much oriented on their goals and therefore they end up doing exactly what is expected of them. This is the reason as to why many female athletes who have this problem never realize that they have this problem.

(Sundgot & Charles, Feb 1987). The most common eating disorder, which affects most athletes, is bulimia. This is a problem, which is also known as bingering and purging. Athletes who have this problem usually eat so much food but before their bodies would absorb them, they usually vomit. This is a problem, which is mostly associated with feeling of guilt and shame. Vomiting acts as a way of relive of the shame. This occurs mostly to athletes who often feel insecure about themselves. As a result of this insecurity, food usually becomes their source of giving them comfort.

This problem mostly affects athletes who feel they are not attaining their expectations mostly in maintaining good body health, which is required of their sports. They develop a feeling of insecurity as they feel as if they may not perform to the expectation of the society or their coaches. Because of the insecurity the athletes realize that they have a problem because even their performance is affected making them to feel depressed (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). Eating disorder has become a major problem to many athletes. This is mostly as a result of the sport, which they are engaged.

For most athletes thinness is what leads to happiness. This is something that is mostly acquired by dieting. Dieting seems to give the athletes the sense of achievement and control. Most athletes have the belief that the more thin and the less their weight then the more better they can perform. They have a strong belief that less weight enhances their performance. This is usually a false belief because the more an athlete loses weight the more their performance is affected. Women athletes are the ones who are mostly affected because they feel pressured on how the public views them.

This is because there are some sports in which judgments are usually done depending on appearance and because of the physical ability (Marten, Shaffer & Carey 2002). There is pressure in some sports for the athletes to be thin and to have small bodies. Athletes who are involved in sports, which are commonly known as lean sports such as dancing, figure skating, gymnastics and wrestling, have higher rates of developing eating disorders as compared to athletes who engage in other sports. For example, gymnastics puts also of emphasis on personal appearance and thinness.

This makes many female gymnasts to engage in dieting in order to maintain perfect weight that is required (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). Many athletes also use unnecessary diets so that they can burn their calories. This pursuit of thinness provides them with identity and enhances a sense of self esteem to many of them. According to Dr. Morse who is an eating disorder coordinator for students, too much dieting, intense training are as a result of negative reinforcement from peers or the coach usually triggers counseling services at Iowa State University eating disorders.

Donald Williamson who is a psychologist asserts that there are several risk factors, which combine to enhance females athletes to increase their risk of developing eating disorder (Marten, Shaffer & Carey 2002). Pressure from the coach and the sports, which she is engaged to lose weight or to be thin, lead most of them to engage in eating disorders. This comes about because she may develop feeling of anxiousness and judge her performance in a negative way if she gains weight or she looks fat. The eating disorders among athletes also originate from their coaches. This is because many coaches recommend weight loss to the athletes.

The emphasis that is put on winning to the athletes also leads them to develop eating disorders because of the stress that is involved. Other problems, which lead to eating disorders among the athletes, are also related to relationship struggles, and other emotional issues that the athletes may be faced in his or her life. Athletes who have been abused or who are criticized heavily by the media, either peers or their coaches also tend to develop eating disorders (Sundgot & Charles, Feb 1987). There has also an increase of men who are developing eating disorders nowadays.

The number is also believed to be high if more men would come forward with their problems. Most of the reasons, which make men develop eating disorders, are the same that makes the women develop the problem. They develop the same feelings such as low self esteem and develop a need for perfection. Male athletes who are engaged in sports such as body building or wrestling are also known to use laxative, Wrap themselves with plastic, engage in fasting and have the tendency to overuse saunas. They do this because they have the belief that loss of water is the quickest and easier way to lose weight.

The number of women who suffer is higher because mostly men do not have the pressure to be thin as women do. It also becomes difficult for men athletes who have eating disorders to report their cases because this is a problem, which most societies take to be a woman disease. This makes most of the male athletes to turn to drugs and alcohol in order to be able to cope with their problem (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). This requires some sensitization to be done to athletes so that they can understand what is meant by eating disorders. By this the athletes will have no problem in accepting that they have the problem .

It is only this way that they can be helped. Participation in athletic may hide the signs of eating disorder that an athlete may be suffering from as a result of the expectations that exist within this sport. Studies have revealed that athletes as group have high chances of getting the problem of eating disorder than other people. This may be related to the fact that many athletes train in kind of environment where there are a lot of emphasis on leanness. They engage in a sport where control and manipulation of body weight is an essential factor in performance and appearance of the athlete.

Female athletes who engage in gymnastics and long distance running usually have great pressure to remain thin. Studies have shown that athletes have the highest chances of development of eating disorder. This is as a result of the pressure athletes put on their body weight. (Hudson, Hiripi, & Pope, 2007). It is assumed that it is the female athletes who suffer more from eating disorders that their male counterparts. Despite this fact, there are also men who suffer from eating disorders. Studies have shown that it is five to ten percent of male athletes who suffer from eating disorders.

Male athletes tend to become more hyperactive instead of developing classic case of eating disorder. In most cases, male athletes tend to become obsessed with their body weight for better performance. This is a different case with many female athletes who are obsessed with their body weight because of body image and for performance. This makes them to be more prone to eating disorder. In many cases, female athletes decrease their food intake or increase their exercise, which may lead to deprivation of their physical state.

The deprivation of their physical of their physical health leads to more of the clinical picture of their problem. The female athletes show signs of being introvert, obsession and signs of depression (Sundgot & Charles, Feb 1987). There are some athletes who do not seek help when they start experiencing some of the problems related to eating disorder. They develop full brown eating disorder. This is when full medical attention is required to deal with the problem. There are also unusual diets, which many athletes take in order to lose weight. Many athletes start taking fruits alone, herbal supplements and cut total intake of fats.

There are also other popular methods used by athletes such as use of laxative and diet pills. The athletes also tend to over exercise, which leads to increased sweet loss, which poses a risk to the health of many athletes due to severe dehydration, blood circulation which is impaired. This also leads to heat transfer, which leads to exhaustion of heat causing a person to collapse. Many athletes fail to take food, which compensates the energy lost during the exercise. This problem leads to reduction of resting metabolic rate, which then leads to unhealthy loss of muscles.

Studies also show that diets which have low kilojoules leads to slow weight loss and are followed by a more enhanced weight gain in the long run. The elimination of some diets by many athletes leads to eating disorders. (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). This is because each nutrient is essential for one function or the other. Therefore, it is unhealthy for an athlete to have a belief that he or she can do well with elimination of some nutrients such as fat completely from their diets. Fat is the nutrient which many athletes eliminate in their diet because they feel that fatty foods the fats makes them gain more weight that required.

However, this is wrong because there are fats known as essential fat, which is essential for the brain, bone marrow cell walls and to the nerves. Inadequate intake of proteins leads to negative nitrogen imbalance, which leads to reduced performance to athletes. (Sungot-Borgen & Tortstveit, 2004). Many of these problems are as a result of lack of enough nutritional knowledge by the athletes. These are important information, which is supposed to be provided to the athletes by their coaches and nutritional specialist. This is because many athletes tend to reduce their food intake so that they can keep themselves fit.

However, this is a wrong assumption because as a result of intensive physical activity that athletes engage in they need to increase their food intake instead or reducing their food intake. Restriction of diets not only affects the performance of athletes but also leads to decrease endurance, the strength reaction time and also affects their speed. Eating disorders usually weakens muscle power, weakens organs and weakens endurance. Eating disorder among athletes is also known to impair performance and leads to inhibition of the ability of the body to fight illness (Hudson, Hiripi, & Pope, 2007).

Eating disorders also tend to increased lack of concentration, sleeping problems and increased depression. Development of eating disorders by athletes leads to tearing of muscle. This is because 80 percent of their body types are genetically inherited. This occurs because when body begins to lose weight than it is required to there is too much stretch of the body muscles, which leads to tear. There are physical problems such as malnutrition, damage of the kidney and the heart if eating problems such as anorexia is not taken care of at the beginning.

Bulimia also makes the athletes to suffer from other healthy problems such as dehydration, mineral reduction and poses danger to other important organs. As a result of the strenuous physical activities which athletes are engaged in, eating disorder usually puts them in more risk of cardiac arrest, which leads to sudden death. (Scoffier, & Paquet, 24 February 2010). There are many warnings signs, which can help coaches to find eating disorders among the athletes. Some of these problems include sudden loss of weigh, obsession with exercises, show of unhappiness, complaining frequently and show of irregular weakness.

There are other signs such as low self esteem and an athlete taking long time in the bathroom with running water on. By looking at such signs, it becomes possible for the coach or a parent to help the athlete to cope with the problem. It is important that Parents, athletes and coaches should be educated on the dangers of eating disorders. This can be done effectively if there is a policy developed if school coordinators make it mandatory for all coaches and athletes to attend classes on proper nutrition and for health. This should be mandatory before they engage in any sport.

It should be necessary if coaches bring with them experts in nutrition to educate the athletes. There should also be counseling services, which should be provided to the athletes suffering from eating disorders. Parents should also be of great importance to deal with eating disorders. They should monitor the eating habits of their children and the weight of their children. (Le Grange, & Loeb, 2007). They are supposed to assist to accompany the children in some practice sessions to observe the coach. They are supposed to look for a coach who is encouraging, praising and who is able to help their athletes.

There many services which are available to assist athletes who have eating disorders to cope with their problem. There are counseling services offered by students in many campuses who help athletes be able to deal with their eating disorders. The groups offer screening and counseling services. Most of the services, which are offered in many campuses by students, are usually free and confidential. There are also internet places where people with this problem can get help. For example at AOL Health under the topic, eating disorders where there is a list of websites available to the public.

By visiting such sites, an athlete with this problem can get a psychologist who can help him or her to deal with the eating problem. There are also bookstores and libraries where there are many books, which have information, which can be used in dealing with eating disorder problem (Hudson, Hiripi, & Pope, 2007). There are also researches, which are being conducted to find out other ways in which eating disorders can be solved. It is good to deal with the problem at early stages because the sooner the problems are detected the better.

It should also be noted that eating disorder is not a single illness, which is caused by a single pathogen, but it is a complex problem, which is caused, by a group of interacting forces, which are unique to individuals. Eating disorder also has nothing to do with food the disorders are symptoms of other deeper emotional issues. The problem does not just end and therefore, athletes who suffer from this problem need medical attention. Understanding the risk factors and how they usually affect the athletes is important I the planning on how treatment should be undertaken.

In order for this problem to end, it is important for athletes to understand how dangerous eating disorders are. (Scoffier, & Paquet, 24 February 2010). Once an athlete is noticed to have eating disorder there are various steps that need to be followed to help the person be helped. The first step involves approaching the athlete gently showing also of concern about the behavior. One is not supposed to start accusing the athlete because this may make the athlete to be scared and may develop denial.

An athlete with this behavior is supposed to be made comfortable despite the problem. The athlete can be helped by being provided with material that he or she may be interested in checking. One is supposed to share the problem with coaches teammates and friends. The healing problem may take long time that expected so there is need for patience. (Le Grange, & Loeb, 2007). References Hudson, J. I. Hiripi, E. & Pope, H. G. (2007) Prevalence and colleration of eating disorders in national comorbidity survey replication, Biological psychiatry 61(3), 348-358.

Le Grange, D. & Loeb, K. (2007) Early identification and treatment of eating disorders. Prodrome to Syndrome. Early Intervention in psychiatry, 1, 27-39. Marten, P. Shaffer & Carey. (2002) Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology A Comparison of Female College Athletes and Nonathletes: Eating Disorder Symptomatology and Psychological Well-Being. V 24 n1 p33-41. Scoffier, S. & Paquet, Y. (24 February 2010). Effect of locus of control on disordered eating in athletes: The mediational role of self-regulation of eating attitudes Volume 11, Issue 3doi:10. 1016.

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