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Eating Disorders & Professional Athletes

AAP outlines medical concerns for female athletes
An updated policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that while exercise is important and should be promoted in girls for health and enjoyment, pediatricians should be aware of health problems that may occur in female athletes. The policy covers important health issues that impact female athletes including disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction and decreased bone mineral density (osteoporosis). The original AAP statement on female athletes only addressed menstrual dysfunction, also called “amenorrhea.”

Coming to terms
Connecticut basketball star Shea Ralph struggled with anorexia nervosa, which depleted her to the point that she needed help getting out of bed. After a knee injury in 1997, Ralph said, she was afraid she would gain weight. “I flipped,” Ralph said in Sunday’s Hartford Courant. “And I just didn’t eat.”

Exercise excess? Experts say there can be too much of a good thing
Jessica Weiner’s exercise routine was unlike that of most 14-year-olds, an age when many girls drift away from exercise. Weiner spent four to six hours every day working out. She devoted the wee hours of the morning to the gym, returning after school to take a turn on every exercise machine. “Bike, treadmill, stair machine, weights – you name it, I did it,” she says.

Women aim to be Ms. Fitness
By looking, no one would know that Julie Palmer used to live each day on only a bowl of raisins. Seven years ago, as she battled anorexia nervosa, the 5-foot-5-inch Palmer pushed her 90-pound body to the brink. She trained Ohio State University students in aerobics, studied late nights as a nursing major and performed as a member on the OSU cheerleading squad.

recent years the Athletic Association has published a great deal of information on proper nutrition and weight control. The ACSM recommends 12%-14% body fat as the minimum safe percent body fat for high school girls.

Olympic hopeful nearly dashed dreams with eating disorder
Whitney Spannuth of Vanderbilt thought that eating less was what a cross-country runner did. She could control her own body weight and run faster. Her theory worked for nearly two years before it fell apart, as eating disorders nearly ended her Olympic dreams.

Athletes face dental danger
Athletes may risk losing their teeth because they eat healthy diets packed with carbohydrates, fruit and energy drinks, dentists have warned. Dental erosion can also be caused by eating disorders – to which athletes are more prone than the general population – when stomach acids are brought up during enforced vomiting.

Silent Edge: Advocacy for figure skaters
Silent Edge provides information and links of interest for those concerned about sexual abuse and exploitation in figure skating (and in all sports), and other advocacy issues for skaters. We also seek to engage the skating community in action for skater advocacy.

Reverse Anorexia in Bodybuilders
One growing sport, bodybuilding, now has the sixth largest sports federation and has come to the attention of researchers. In the last few years, researchers have linked bodybuilding to an overwhelming drive for lean muscle mass coined “reverse anorexia” by Pope, Katz, and Hudson (1993) and “bigameraria” by Taylor(1985).

Eating disorders not worth an athlete’s life
Why are eating disorders so common in female athletes? I know that the prevalence of disordered eating is 62 percent or more and that athletes in swimming, gymnastics, dance and figure skating are at higher risk for development of eating disorders. But, why my friends? Why people I know and care about?

Ballet dancers take steps to healthier bodies
“I got anorexia when I was about 19 or 20, and it sort of just increased and increased, so by age 33, I had a heart attack,” said Sorella Englund, former principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet.

The Perfect Ballet Body
Jill Cheever had everything going for her. At five feet three inches tall and 105 pounds, the petite blonde had a jubilant personality that infected everyone around her. No one would have thought she was plagued by a common but rarely mentioned, deadly disease–a disease that can be cured.

Body image produces a distorted picture
It can happen at the highest level. The current European cross-country champion, Sara Wedlund, is a self-confessed anorexic, while Lucy Hassell, the British international runner, became so thin that she was forced to use a wheelchair.

Young female athletes are more likely to be virgins, and those who aren’t virgins begin sex at a later age, have sex less often, have fewer sex partners and are more likely to use contraceptives than female non-athletes. The same cannot be said for male athletes, according to a study released Wednesday by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Hard physical training at an early age can cause serious bone damage
Accumulated evidence suggests athletic amenorrhoea to be related to energy deficiency or to the eating disorders that are prevalent among athletes. The long-term consequences of amenorrhoea are premature osteoporosis and increased risk of musculoskeletal injury.

EDancing: Eating Disorders
Excellent site on eating disorders by Dance Art

Striking the Balance
Sport is an activity that can be enjoyed by all without negative repercussions.

Eating Disorders: A Guide for coaches, parents and friends
The recent death of an Olympic gymnast drives home the sad but true message that athletes die from eating disorders. Be it anorexia or bulimia, these life-threatening conditions are taking their toll on even Olympians. Given that about one-third of female athletes and a smaller number of males struggle with food, bizarre eating habits can seem almost normal among sports-active people.

Female Athletic Triad

Team Management of the Female Athlete Triad
The female athlete triad of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis affects many active women and girls, especially those in sports that emphasize appearance or leanness. Because of the athlete’s psychological defense mechanisms and the stigma surrounding disordered eating, physicians may need to ask targeted questions about nutrition habits when assessing a patient who has a stress fracture or amenorrhea, or during preparticipation exams.

Speaker warns about triad
Women who have any thoughts of having children later on in life put dents in this thought if they develop amenorrhea. Women need about 7 percent more body fat than men do in order to bear children. The body realizes that it will be incapable of supporting another life.

Female Athlete Triad
A preventable disorder which is under recognized
At fourteen and a half, Jenna just reaches the five-foot mark. She weighs 87 pounds and her coach orders her not to gain under any circumstance. She has never menstruated. Jenna, a high school freshman in Oregon, is a serious, competitive gymnast. Or perhaps it’s her coach who is competitive.


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any excessive control of caloric intake.

loss of menstrual cycle

low bone density and fragile skeleton