Defining and Identifying Eating Disorders in Female Athletes

FYI: While this newsletter is focusing on female athletes, males are not immune to eating disorders and encounter many of the same pressures to loose weight and/ or restrict caloric intake for a sport. NEDA's site states that about 10% of those that end up receiving assistance from mental health professionals are male. The same preventative tips can help deter male athletes from excessive behavior that could result in an eating disorder.
According to the Female Athletic Triad Coalition, the Triad is a syndrome of three conditions that very in severity:

  1. energy deficit/disordered eating,
  2. menstrual disturbance/amenorrhea, and
  3. bone loss/osteoporosis.

The coalition credits energy deficiency (expending more energy than is consumed) as the primary cause for the Triad, This can lead to disordered eating, such as anorexia or bulimia or subclinical disordered eating behaviors, such as caloric restriction. Signs to look out for are low energy and irregular or non-existent menstrual cycles. Low bone density, frequent fractures, and signs associated with eating disorders may not appear in the initial stages of the Triad.

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