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There has been an increase in the number of athletes developing an eating disorder. The most affected athletes are the ones involved in judged sports rather then timed or team sports. Gymnastics, figure skating and dancing are among the worst because there is a great emphasis on being thin. Recent study shows that 62% of females involved in these sports have had an eating disorder in some way.

In sports where an artistic mark is given, there is enormous pressure to be thin and flawless. Part of the mark is based on appearance. The athlete can feel pressure from judges, coaches and their parents to be thin. But what can be done to help prevent this? It’s all about awareness and knowledge.

For parents, I suggest you investigate a coach’s technique before enrolling your child in a program. Is there a history of eating disorders in former students? Is the coach educated in the area of eating disorders? Accompany your child to some of the training session, preferably unannounced, to assess how things are run. Lastly, be encouraging. Try not to heap too much pressure on your child to perform.

For coaches and trainers, you need to educate your self on eating disorders. There are many factors that contribute their development and many ways to help prevent one. The use of a nutritionist and even a psychotherapist may be very helpful. If one of your students does come forward looking for help, don’t criticize or judge them. You only need to lend support to help them through this. It’s the all or nothing attitude that can be deadly. After all winning at all cost is too high of a price to pay.

There are many resources available concerning eating disorders. Even a click of the mouse on the Internet will bring up a wealth of information. Hopefully we can raise the awareness of eating disorders and help our athletes to survive their training.