Olympic Athletes Among Those At Increased Risk For Eating Disorders

Olympic athletes are among those elite athletes at increased risk for eating disorders.

While many people around the world enjoy watching the Olympic games events, some former Olympians are reminding the public that the pressure to be the fastest and the best, can result in some athletes developing eating disorders in order to appear competitive.

One in five elite female athletes suffers from eating disorders

One in five elite female athletes suffers from eating disorders according to statistics from the Eating Healthy Alliance. In addition to this, as many as one in four women in their late teens or early twenties may use binging and purging as a means to control their weight.

Whitney Post

Whitney Post is a former world champion and Olympics alternate rower. She is currently president of the Eating Healthy Alliance. Whitney states that for 15 years she struggled with bulimia, an eating disorder that she believes coincided with her rowing career. She shares her experience in the hope of increasing public recognition of the serious nature of eating disorders among athletes, and reducing the stigma.

Overwhelming pressure to be thin

Some Olympic athletes reportedly blame public pressure to “look the part” of a competitive Olympian as one of the factors contributing to the number of athletes battling eating disorders. The competitive nature of elite level sport also impacts athletes who may be vulnerable to using extreme measures to be the best.

It can be difficult to identify Olympic athletes with an eating disorder due to the amount of training that is required at an elite level. The stigma of suffering from an eating disorder results in many athletes keeping their eating disorder well hidden.

However, as more athletes come forward about the dangers of eating disorders, it is hoped that awareness will replace guilt and shame. Swimmer Amanda Beard, gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and skater Nancy Kerrigan are just a few athletes who have identified as struggling with eating disorders in order to be competitive.

Unhealthy practice

Ultimately, an eating disorder will negatively affect the health and well being of an athlete and contribute to serious health problems. Athletes who struggle with eating disorders experience less overall energy, and stand a greater risk for acquiring an injury. They also require a longer recovery time when injured. In the long-term, an eating disorder can disrupt fertility.

Whitney Post considers herself to be fully recovered from bulimia. She stresses the importance of getting help as soon as possible for an eating disorder, as the longer it persists the more difficult it is to treat.

Source: KHOU.com

Photo by Bryan Allison

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on EatingDisorders.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of EatingDisorders.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2017 EatingDisorders.com.
Company Information

© 2017 EatingDisorders.com. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of EatingDisorders.com's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.