Eating disorders in sport

With the start of the 2022 World Cup, many are considering the often strictly controlled diets and routines of athletes and how this can affect their mental health.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are a form of mental health condition. People who have eating disorders use food to cope with or control situations.

These kinds of illnesses often include behaviours such as eating too much, too little or worrying about body image.

The most common forms of eating disorders in the UK are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

Is there a correlation between sports nutrition and eating disorders?

A Government study found that elite athletes have a high overall prevalence of eating disorders sitting at 13.5 per cent.

Female athletes show the highest prevalence rate of 20.1 per cent while male athletes show a 7.7 per cent rate showing a stark contrast between the genders.

In order to be an athlete within the professional realm, there are often strict dietary requirements associated with maximising the performance of the body for competitive sports.

Some sports such as gymnastics, bodybuilding, and boxing, expect contestants to meet weight requirements. If the competitors are unable to do so, they are unable to compete professionally.

Within the industry, there can often be pressure to be successful, this can lead to an emphasis on body weight or shape.

These strict requests which have to be met by athletes can often lead to low self-esteem and chronic dieting or other forms of eating disorders which manifest as a result.

High-risk sports in the UK have been identified as:

  • Swimming
  • Running (track & field and cross country)
  • Gymnastics
  • Diving
  • Synchronised Swimming
  • Wrestling
  • Judo
  • Lightweight Rowing

How can eating disorders be treated?

Eating disorders can be treated through specialist care, this will often include therapy. It is also necessary to undergo regular health checks to ensure the eating disorder is not also affecting your physical health.

Treatment plans for eating disorders often take a two-strand structure which tackles the mental and physical elements of the illness simultaneously.

At Synergy Complex Care, we provide personalised care and support plans to suit your individual needs.

If you or a loved one require support, contact us today.

Posted in Mental Health.