Eating disorders are a prominent worry among athletes

July 5, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

Certain athletes may be prone to developing eating disorders.

Athletes may be motivated to take extreme measure in order to achieve physical perfection. Such an attitude is one factor that may increase the risk of eating disorders, which may lead to orthopaedics issues and other health complications.

"Interestingly, the very same perfectionistic, overachieving and people-pleasing temperament that fuels achievement in athletic competition - both elite and casual - closely mirrors the personality traits of those individuals who tend to develop eating disorders," Kenneth Weiner, M.D., FAED, CEDS, wrote in The Huffington Post.

According to experts, there are several circumstances in athletics that may lead to anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. Among them are perceptions that leaner athletes perform better; sports that judge aesthetics, such as gymnastics or cheerleading; the use of revealing uniforms; and personality traits related to perfectionism.

Athletes may not always be forthcoming about having an eating disorder. Signs of a problem include an increase in exercise outside a normal routine, deteriorating performance and overuse injuries, such as stress fractures. Individuals may need help from specially trained professionals.

The lifetime prevalence of both anorexia and bulimia in the U.S. is 0.6 percent, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, when it comes to the proportion of patients who get the treatment they need, that rate is about 34 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

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