78 Eating and Body Dysmorphic Disorders

Like stated in the introduction, everyone, who looks at an athlete as a role model, tend to want the same body as that athlete; however, they do not understand the extermes an athletes goes though to get there bodies that way In some cases, those extremes arent safe. For intance, many athletes suffers from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulima nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, which are common in both males and females. Males tend to also suffer from muscle or body dysmorphic,but current study have shown that they suffer from eating disorders as well. Studies have shown that 16 -72% of female athletes suffer from an eating disorder (Montgomery,2010). While only 5- 15% of males suffer, however more men tend to suffer more with binge-eating,. Studies have shown the 35% of men have this disorder.(Chang)

  • Anorexia Nervosa: is an eating disorder characterized by unrealistic fear of weight gain, self-starvation, and conspicuous distortion of body image.
    • Athletes with Anorexia Nervosa refuse to maintain a healthy body weight. Their body weight is 85% lower than that of expected weight or fail to make expected weight gains. They experience an intense fear of gaining weight.
    • When an athlete becomes anorexic, their performance is affected by the weakness caused by the disorder. The athlete will say they are fat when they are clearly thin to everyone else. These athletes have difficulty admitting they have a problem.
    • An example of this is a gymnast who will strive to make herself thin by not eating or eating a diet of celery to maintain the thin stature expected in the sport. When a sport medical team observes an athlete that appears to be too thin, anorexia should be suspected. When dealing with anorexia, the sports medical team should focus on the distress the athlete currently has rather than focusing on the weight issue. Suggesting going to see if there is a problem is better perceived by the athlete than telling them to go to therapy.
    • A widely used diagnostic tool, the body mass index measures the body fat based on the weight and the height of an individual. Developed by a Belgian scientist Adolphe Quetelet, it helps to calculate how healthy a person is, based on his weight and identify whether the person is underweight, overweight or obese. The relation of BMI to fatness differs for people of different age and gender. For example, the BMI of women is likely to be higher than that of men.
      • To calculate your BMI, just take your weight in kilograms and divide it with your height in meters. The result has to be again divided by the height in meters. For example if your weight is 60 kg and height is 1.50 m, then the BMI would be 26.67 (60/1.50 = 40 and 40/1.50 = 26.67). Thereafter you can compare your BMI to the weight ranges set out by the World Health Organization (WHO). This applies to both adult men and women but varies for children and older people.
      • Calucating BMI,is the same for both. men and women. below is a chart for you to better understand the use of the BMI
        • Interpreting Your BMI
          • If your BMI is 19 to 24.9 you have a healthy weight.
          • If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 you are considered to be overweight and may incur moderate health risks.
          • If your BMI is 30+ you are considered to be obese. Obesity is linked to increased risk of cancer, heart disease and other health problems.
          • It is vital that while working out the BMI, the body frame and build also be taken into consideration. Therefore the BMI by itself may not be accurate for a weight trainer, a pregnant woman or an athlete. People who are over 60 years of age cannot calculate their BMI by this tool, as their bones start to weigh less due to old age. An athlete can use this test to figure out wheter they fall into the healthy or anorexic zone.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors. Bulimia Nervosa is often seen in athletes who are of normal weight or can be slightly overweight.
    • Then these individuals will engage in compensatory behaviors such as laxative, self-induced vomiting, or excessive exercise to get rid of or makeup for what they ate. The food they eat is typically high in sweet and calories.
    • They frequently make wide fluxuations in weight.
    • One example of an athlete with bulimia is a jockey. Jockeys have to make a certain weight in order to be able to mount a horse and to work. It is a common practice of Jockeys to self-induce vomit to make weight.
    • Bulimia does not typically affect an athlete’s performance. The athlete may be affected from the stress of guilt, depression, and family conflicts caused by the disorder.
  • Binge-Eating: also known as compulsive overeating, is characterized by periodls of uncontrooled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the poine of feeling comfortably fully. Althought there is no purging, there many be periods where the individual fasts, have repetitive diets. They often tend to have a feeling of shame or self hatred after a binge.
    • According to some studies, not all athletes are engaging in disorders. The video that is located at the in “related video” section will explain what sports are more susceptible to eating disorders (Kakaiya).
  • Muscle Dysmorphia: also called as bigorexia and is also known as reverse anorexia, because intead of trying to lose weight an athlete is trying to gain more weight.
    • Athletes, such as body builders are mostly affected with this disorder along with men who are involved in boxing and wrestling (Page,2010)
    • Signs and symptoms may include:
      • The feeling that he or she is small and underdeveloped.
      • Constantly check themselves in the mirror.
      • Getting anxious if they do not work out every day.
      • Doing resistance training, and exercise.
    • Side effects include:
      • Damaged muscles, joints, cartilage, tendons and/or ligaments.
    • This preoccupation can interfere with normal social and occupational lives. The sport medical team should ask the athlete if they are taking over the counter medications or creatine. Some of these supplements, especially those containing stimulants, can cause manic episodes in those prone to bipolar disorder.
    • Some athletes will not take the substance or stop if the sports medical team strongly points out that the governing body of the sport could disqualify them from competition for taking the substance.
    • Muscle Dysmorphis is common mainly amoug men, however, it is soon in both sexes.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder(BDD): this is a condition in which the athlete will have obsessions and distressing thoughts that repeatedly intrude into the persons awareness. Individuals with BDD experience problems with percieved apperance flaws that cause stress.
    • Just as people with eating disorders obsess about their weight, people with BDD become obsessed over an aspect of their appearance.
    • People with BDD may worry their hair is thin, their face is scarred, their eyes aren’t exactly the same size, their nose is too big, or their lips are too thin.
    • Although the inperfections are small that people with BDD obsess over, they firmly believe that everyone notices that aspect and think everyone is looking at it. But for a person with BDD, the concerns feel very real, because the obsessive thoughts distort and magnify any tiny imperfection.
    • These extreme thoughts can cause the individual to not go out in piblic and think they are just too ugly to be seen in public.
    • Individuals with BDD will likely use compulsions to counteract the obsession over their physical appearance. An example would be, if a person with BDD thought their nose was ugly they would constantly check it in the mirroe, apply make up, or frequently ask people if their nose looks ugly. Compulsions are a way to temporarily release some amount of stress.
    • Treatment includes one of two things
      • Medications such as Serotoin reuptake inhibitors or antidepressants that decrease the obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
      • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a three step process.


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