Free «Eating Disorders» Essay Sample

Eating Disorders

Some sports are associated with the increased attention to the body thus being the sources of potential risk of eating disorders. Such sports include gymnastics, fitness, bodybuilding, diving, ballet, figure skating, horse riding, boxing, and weightlifting (Currie, 2010). In these sports, athletes have to either keep themselves within the weight category in which they act or aspire to the almost total lack of body fat. Very often, coaches pour oil into the fire constantly pointing their sportsmen that their body is not enough aesthetic. Sometimes, one careless remark can make an athlete follow very strict dietary restrictions and ultimately lead to anorexia or other eating disorders. Sportsmen are the unique category of the population, and their eating profile must be evaluated differently from the others (Sundgot-Borgen, & Torstveit, 2004). Eating disorders are particularly dangerous to health and, in rare cases, life of an athlete.

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Malnutrition is widely studied among all segments of the population, but only in the last decade, studies have been conducted considering the risk of eating disorders among athletes. Generally, 1% of women have symptoms that meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa. Neurotic bulimia prevails in about 1 - 3% of women. Overeating covers 2% of the adult population and is the most common kind of eating disorders. These data cover the general population. However, in the recent years, various studies showed that high percent of athletes has eating disorders, and this percentage is higher than in general population. This led to the formation of special term – Anorexia Athletica – condition related to eating disorders in sportsmen (Sundgot-Borgen, & Torstveit, 2004).

Athletes diagnosed with eating disorders are mostly women (Currie, 2010). Studies show that eating disorders among female athletes range from 1 to 62% depending on the sport and applied diagnostic method. In addition, the study showed that the high-class athletes from 35 different sports have more frequent cases of eating disorders, for example, aesthetic (34%) and dependent on body weight (27%) compared to sports with sports that require stamina (20%), good technique (13%), and command sports (11%). Dissemination of eating disorders also varies within group sports. For example, among athletes and endurance athletes, eating disorders are more prevalent than for runners and skiers, cyclists, swimmers, and those involved in orientation. These data clearly support the theory that athletes involved in sports where elegance and weight are important have greater risk of developing eating disorders. The number of athletes with subclinical eating disorders is unknown; however, they are obviously more common than was previously thought and may lead to the development of clinical eating disorders (Sundgot-Borgen, & Torstveit, 2004).

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Eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors as well as cultural traditions (Currie, 2010). Women are usually more at risk as they seek to achieve and keep the ideal body shape. Even young girls, who have lower body weight corresponding to their growth, dieting not to increase it. Women athletes are also under the pressure indicators and specific requirements of the sport. Athletes acting in so-called aesthetic sport are included into a risk category. These sports are gymnastics, ballet, figure skating, and others (Currie, 2010). Here, body weight plays a vital role for the achievement of great results in competitions. For example, in pair skating or ballet, there is a great amount of hand spots and jumps; these elements require low weight in order to be performed in a right way. In general, these rules concern women since they are lifted in hand spot or walking on their knees wearing ballet shoes. On the one hand, the reason why these sportsmen are very thin is that it is hard to dance in ballet shoes or skates with extra weight; on the other hand, the constant pressure and standards impose them a certain appearance, which they cannot neglect if they want to achieve some good results (Currie, 2010).

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The causes of eating disorders in sportsmen are the same as the general population has. However, in sportsmen, these causes are multiplied by high physical and psychological loads related to the desire to win the competition (Currie, 2010). Sports themselves do not cause eating disorders, but public opinion, coaches, and peer pressure combined with the excitement of sports performance and relatively negative self-esteem may contribute to its occurrence (Sundgot-Borgen, & Torstveit, 2004). The modern society imposes an ideal of beauty – a woman with a skinny figure - which certainly leads to an increase in the cases of eating disorders. Losing weight and, thus, improving the body image is the main goal for people, and it is always based on fear. They are afraid to succumb to the desire to eat, become obese, and lose control over their weight. Such people are totally focused on how to lose weight, limit the list of dishes that can be consumed, and are biased to everything connected with nutrition. In addition, such people increase their physical activity – start doing sports or simply exercise every day (Currie, 2010). Unfortunately, the intensity of exercise and sports is as a rule too high. Thus, extreme diet and high intensity sports lead to low energy consumption. Therefore, the body does not get the amount of energy required for proper functioning and star to malfunction. This is the first step to eating disorder formation. Here one can draw a direct connection between improving the body image, sports, and eating disorders.

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In conclusion, it is worth to say that the modern prevalence of eating disorders and statistics concerning this issue is scaring. As it was proved, sportsmen are at higher risk of eating disorder appearance and, thus, require the special treatment and education. Sport is a good way to maintain “healthy mind in a healthy body”, but it is necessary to remember that health is worth more than various sport achievements and medals.