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Thin Build Athletes and Eating Disorders

            Athletes who participate in "thin-build" sports - gymnastics, dance, figure skating and long distance running - are at a greater risk of developing eating disorders than their "rowdy" sport counterparts. Since athletes are known to be competitive and perfectionistic, they are "at a predisposition to embody many obsessive traits, putting them at a higher risk for disordered eating" (Disordered). The constant pressure placed on athletes by family, coaches and their communities, may pressure them to engage in unhealthy practices in order to appease those expectations and achieve success on the field. .
             There are often strong beliefs in these sports that lower weight athletes perform better than their heavier peers. As in many cases, it is believed that a lower body mass index among athletes increases athletic performance and agility for a variety of different reasons. These reasons stem from the belief that lower body mass often delays puberty in females and secondly, that a lighter body mass has less resistance. However, the drastic physical, physiological and emotional effects of self starvation, self-deprivation and abuse that an eating disorder poses on a body, essentially contributes to the destruction of the athlete's longevity and physical endurance. Thus, all of the positive aspects of a thin build are automatically over powered by the feeble sickly anatomy of a starved athlete.
             Athletes in thin build sports are psychologically at risk for developing eating disorders (reference). First and foremost athletes in sports such as figure skating, dance and gymnastics begin training at a young age. Often these children train away from their parents and left to the mercy of coaches and harsh judges leaving them all the more psychologically vulnerable. They are at risk for developing eating disorders that range from anorexia to bulimia to binge eating disorders. Anorexics and bulimics are generally high achievers, people pleasers and perfectionists and all these traits are synonymous with personality profile of most professional and serious athletes.

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