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Athletes with Eating Disorders In a sense eating disorders are diets and fitness or sports programs gone horribly wrong A person wants to get fit lose weight excel in his or her sport but then loses control and ends up with body and spirit ravaged by starvation binge eating purging and frantic compulsive exercise What may have begun as a solution to problems of low self-esteem has now become an even bigger problem in its own right Eating disorders are significant problems in the worlds of ballet and other dance figure skating gymnastics running swimming rowing horse racing ski jumping and riding Wrestlers usually thought of as strong and massive may binge eat before a match to carbohydrate load and then purge to make weight in a lower class The female athlete is doubly at risk for the development of an eating disorder She is subject to the constant social pressure to be thin that affects all females in western countries and she also finds herself in a sports climate that may overvalue performance low body fat and an idealized unrealistic body shape size and weight Constant exposure to the demands of the athletic subculture added to those bombarding her daily on TV in movies in magazines and transmitted by peers may make her especially vulnerable to the lures of and unhealthy ways of achieving that loss Males also develop eating disorders but at a much reduced incidence approximately 90 female 10 male Males may be protected somewhat by their basic biology and different cultural expectations Many sports demand low percentages of body fat In general men have more lean muscle tissue and less fatty tissue than women do Males also tend to have higher metabolic rates than females because muscle burns more calories faster than fat does So women who in general carry more body fat than men with slower metabolisms and smaller frames require fewer calories than men do All of these factors
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