DENVER, CO -- (Marketwire) -- 10/02/12 -- Driven athletes possess similar personality traits to individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa, which may predispose them to the potential development of an eating disorder. For this reason, and as fall sports kick into full gear, Eating Recovery Center, an international center providing comprehensive treatment for anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS and binge eating disorder, encourages parents, coaches and athletes themselves to understand and minimize athletic activities and pressures that could potentially lead to eating disorders.
Experts agree that certain categories of sports tend to place athletes at a greater than average risk for developing an eating disorder. High risk sports often include dance, gymnastics, wresting, endurance running and swimming. In fact, research published by Craig Johnson, PhD, FAED, CEDS, chief clinical officer of Eating Recovery Center, found that at least one-third of female college athletes have some symptoms of an eating disorder.
"The same perfectionistic, high-achieving temperament that fuels athletic achievement closely mirrors the traits of individuals who tend to develop eating disorders," said Dr. Johnson. "For this reason, it is important for athletes and their parents and coaches to be aware of and responsive to eating disorders risk factors in the athletic environment."
To help parents of athletes reduce eating disorders risks, Eating Recovery Center offers the following guidance:
1. Keep a watchful eye for signs of over-exercising or obsession with achieving a specific weight or body size for competition.
2. Focus on the excitement of playing a sport or the importance of being part of a team, rather than on performance and wins and losses.
3. If eating disorders run in your family, be cautious about placing your child in body shape- or weight-focused sports, including those mentioned above.
Coaches can also assist in eating disorders prevention by recognizing their leadership role and exercising that influence to support the health of their athletes. Eating Recovery Center offers coaches the following advice:
1. Be mindful of the comments you make about athletes' body types, shapes and sizes; seemingly harmless remarks can be very triggering for genetically predisposed individuals.
2. If weighing athletes or measuring body fat is a component of preparation for your sport, make efforts to privately assess athletes and keep numbers confidential when possible.
3. Open lines of communication with your athletes and engage in a dialogue if you are concerned about an individual's weight loss or behaviors.
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