Gymnastics eating disorders:


Eating disorders are found in all sports; sports that emphasize leanness for performance and appearance are at a significantly greater risk. Hence, gymnasts, long-distance runners, divers, and figure skaters are more prone to developing eating disorders then those who compete in nonweight-restricting sports such as volleyball or football. In the 1992, a survey carried in America concluded that 51% of the gymnastics programs that responded reported this illness among its team members, a far greater number compare to other sports.
Causes for Eating disorders in Gymnasts
1. Excess weight can hinder performance.
2. Judging gymnastics routines is not as objective. Each judge assigns a score according to his or her own beliefs. Thus, the appearance of the performer may actually influence their perceptions and affect their ultimate decision.
3. A third reason for the greater prevalence of eating disorders among these gymnasts is coaches. As weight impairs performance, coaches overplay this aspect and instruct on weight control.
Relationship between body weight and performance:
Usually it is said that an inverse relationship exists between body weight or composition and athletic performance. The higher the body weight, the poorer the performance and vice versa. One study examined the physiological performance variables needed for skills in the routines of elite gymnasts, such as running speed, jumping height, and hand strength. This investigation found that there was no correlation between body weight and the performance of these behaviors. In a different study, however, it said that weight impinges on performance. Thus there are contradictory views.
Impact of severe weight loss:
Rapid weight loss techniques lead to severe consequences that affect both the performance and the overall health of gymnasts. These include fatigue, nutrient inadequacies, and impaired growth. In women consequences include amenorrohoea (cessation of period). Severe estrogen deficiency causes cessation of menstruation, which leads to bone loss and osteoporosis later in life.
Gender concerns:
Eating disorder often strikes young women who try to evade the natural process of becoming adults. They use drastic measures to maintain a thin and girlish figure. Today's female gymnast must maintain girlish figure to stay reach top. For them, the onset of womanhood is scary as it means developing hips or breasts that might impinge their performance. As demonstrated by such famous gymnasts as Kathy Johnson and Nadia Comaneci who have struggled with eating disorders themselves, women's gymnastics seems "designed for the disease".
Measures Required:
1. Developing better criteria for judging a gymnasts performance.
2. Educating Coaches and Judges about the eating disorders.
3. Training Coaches to detect Eating disorders.
4. Creating Help lines and Support Groups.

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