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Eating Disorders in Athletes

  • By: Christy Greenleaf & Trent A. Petrie
  • In: Encyclopedia of Lifestyle Medicine & Health
  • Edited by: James M. Rippe
  • Subject:Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine, Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious psychiatric conditions characterized by dangerous eating and weight control behaviors and distorted perceptions of and attitudes toward food, weight, and appearance. Because of the unique pressures of the sport environment, such as weight restrictions and coach expectations, both male and female athletes are at increased risk of EDs. This entry reviews the prevalence of EDs among athletes, provides an overview of related conditions experienced by athletes, and discusses sport-related pressures that contribute to their development and maintenance.

Prevalence of EDs Experienced by Athletes

Rates of clinical EDs (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified [EDNOS]) are slightly higher among both female and male athletes than in nonathletes, though the overall prevalence of these disorders is fairly low, ranging from ...

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