Athletes need help with eating disorders


Athletes are more likely to need help with eating disorders than others, psychiatrists say

According to psychiatrists, eating disorders are a serious problem for athletes, but often go unaddressed. A paper on this topic was given by consultant psychiatrist and former athlete Dr. Alan Curry at the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Brighton.

Eating disorders have a neuropsychiatric cause and include diseases such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, psychogenic overeating and a number of others. All these are complex problems and their solution should combine both a physiological (combating metabolic disorders and malnutrition) and a psychological approach.

The scientist emphasizes that athletes who pay great attention to nutrition are at a higher risk of developing them. In addition, these disorders are also much more difficult to detect in athletes, since many athletes are very thin and carefully hide their problems in order to participate in competitions.

Even when the disorders are identified, it is difficult for them to access high-quality psychological care, which is a strong contrast to the physical injuries that professionals deal with by a whole team of specialists. With eating disorders, athletes are on their own, says Alan Curry.

Studies have shown that the prevalence of eating disorders in athletes is about 8%, which is 16 times higher than the average. And among female athletes, this figure is even higher — 20%, which is twice as high as among non-sports women.

Sports need healthy people. And since the sports environment can contribute to the development of eating disorders, sports organizations and governing bodies need to consider and minimize these mental health risks for athletes, the expert notes.

Based on press release from The Royal College of Psychiatrists

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