Ask the Expert: Dilip Patel, MD, Sports Medicine

We are continuing our interview with Dilip Patel MD, a member of the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at WMU’s School of Medicine and a sports medicine specialist.

What bearing does a young person’s weight have on your assessment?

“A person’s weight should be viewed in the context of personal, family, sociocultural and psychosocial history. A focus on healthy lifestyle and physical and mental fitness is more important than just the weight as a number.

“It is not beneficial for coaches or others involved to discuss weight with athletes except for athletes involved in sports that require mandatory weigh-ins. Many athletes and coaches inappropriately focus on weight instead of overall fitness and performance. Casual remarks by a coach or other adults may trigger disordered eating habits and obsession with body weight in some vulnerable athletes. Athletes should first discuss desire or need for weight manipulation and methods with knowledgeable professionals. Regardless of the need for weight loss all athletes must be strongly warned against engaging in harmful weight-loss practices. A wrestler can be disadvantaged by wrestling at a weight significantly lower than natural while his or her opponent weighs in at his or her natural weight and wrestles at that weight. Mat-side weigh-ins would prevent wrestlers from competing when they are weak from dehydration and prevent the temptation of dehydrating themselves to the degree that is life threatening.”

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