Sunday, December 4, 2016

Through an Athletic Trainer’s Eyes: Disordered Eating Part One

As an athletic trainer, we are dealt with many different situations as athletes come in and out of our athletic training rooms. When an athlete come into the athletic training room we must keep an open mind about what we might encounter. An illness is not always physical and we as medical professionals must keep in mind mental illness affect our athletes as well. A study states that 31.9% of adolescents met the criteria for anxiety disorder, 19.1 % were affected by behavioral disorders, 14.3 experienced mood disorders, and 11.4% had substance-use disorders. ² This study did not focus solely on secondary school athletes but still provides eye opening statistics.
It is important to note that will dealing with an athlete that displays characteristics of a mental illness to use the terms “psychological concern” and “ mental disorder” when describing the situation. This is important because only a mental health care professional has the legal authority to diagnose a mental illness. ²
There is a broad spectrum of mental disorders but this blog will focus on disordered eating. Disordered eating includes behaviors and attitudes such as, concerns about body weight and shape, inadequate caloric intake, binge eating, use of laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills, fasting, vomiting, and excessive exercise.¹ Individuals with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, will rarely self-report their symptoms. Therefore, as the athletic trainer, coach, or parent it is our job to be observant of our athletes.
It is estimated that as high as 62% of female athletes and 33% of male athletes have been diagnosed with disordered eating.¹ Typically athletes that participate in sports that have a focus on appearance of weight such as gymnastics, swimming, cross country running, power lifting, and wrestling. Equal attention should be given to male athletes who are showing signs of disordered eating. It may be more difficult to detect disordered eating in males for two reasons: First, they do not have a diagnostic characteristic such as amenorrhea in females. The second is males have higher sense of shame and embarrassment due to disordered eating being stereotypically a “female” order.¹
An athlete suffering from disordered eating can not only hurt their performance but ultimately their overall health. In my next blog I will discuss how to recognize the signs and symptoms of disordered eating and how to approach an athlete who is suspected of disordered eating.   Overall, your blog was great, and i enjoyed reading it.


¹Bonci, C. M., MS, ATC, Bonci, L. J., MPH, RD,LDN,CSSD, Granger, L. R., ATC, Johnson, C. L., PhD, Malina, R. M., PhD, FACSM, Milne, L. W., MD, . . . Vanderbunt, E. M., MS, ATC. (2008). Preventing, Detecting and Managing Disordered Eating in ... Retrieved November 14, 2016, from
²Neal, T. L., Ms, ATC, Diamond, A. B., DO, MPH, Goldman, S., PhD, CC-AASP, Liedtka, K. D., MS, Mathis, K., MEd, ATC, Morse, E. D., MD, DFAPA, . . . Welzant, V., PsyD. (2015). Interassociation Recommendations for Developing a Plan to Recognize and Refer Student-Athletes With Psychological Concerns at the Secondary School Level: A Consensus Statement. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog. As an Athletic Trainer, I must agree that this topic is one of the most difficult situations to deal. It is not a comfortable feeling being approached about a condition that one struggles with. To point out someone's health issue is always going to be a touchy subject and handled with great sensitivity and care.
    As well, the last sentence within your blog is your editor's comment.

    Otherwise, interesting read.