Eating Disorders in College Athletes
Every year thousands of students are recruited to be student athletes at colleges and every year approximately 8 million individuals suffer from eating disorders. According to Psychology Applied to Modern Life, eating disorders are defined as “severe disturbances in eating behavior characterized by preoccupation with weight and unhealthy efforts to control weight (Weiten, Dunn, Hammer, 2011, p. 470).” Eating disorders can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. With risk factors such as low self esteem, pressure from family, friends and coaches and access to unlimited to food it is no wonder that collegiate athletes have higher rates of eating disorders than regular college students. Living in a dorm full of mostly athletes it has become extremely apparent to me that these athletes struggle with immense of pressure and one way of getting around this pressure is bulimia. Certain sports put more pressure on athletes to be a certain size and perform at a certain level than others.
Regardless of what sport an athlete is participating, once they reach a certain level there is an enormous amount of pressure. When an athlete is depriving himself or herself of food or making themselves puke after in taking food, they can start to go down a path of malnutrition, which will have a huge toll on their performance. Athlete’s battling eating disorders may experience symptoms such as anemia, muscle loss, osteoporosis, electrolyte imbalance, heart problems and hormone changes (Harms, 2012). A large majority of the time, when athletes are dropping weight they are going to end up developing problems such as fatigue, nutrient deficiencies and impaired growth which are only going to hurt them more in the long run. All of these symptoms will only hurt the athlete’s performance.
Craig Johnson, Pauline Powers and Randy Dick conducted a study at the University of South Florida. 1,445 student athletes from multiple different Division 1 schools participated in order to see the prevalence of eating disorders in a variety of different sports. The student athletes were asked questions about their athletic involvement, eating behaviors, drug and alcohol behavior and attitudes about their body image. The first set of results showed that 16.19% of females and 12.57% of males binge ate monthly (Powers, 1996). 81% of females reported feeling out of control of eating while only 45% of males reported feeling out of control. 23.9% of females reported vomiting as a form of purging but only 5.93% of males reported vomiting. When it came to diet pills, 14.30% of women reported usage while 2.16% of males reported usage. Although males’ results were always smaller than women, they are still at rise and suffering from eating disorders. With this study it is obvious that all athletes experience demands that push them to turn to abnormal and dangerous eating patterns.
With that being said, certain sports put more...