Theoretical Paper

Eating disorders and performance sports

Author: Maria Cristina Bundă & Daniela Elena Bratu
Titu Maiorescu University, Faculty of Psychology, Bucharest, Romania

Eating disorders are often complex, multifactorial medical conditions. In some cases, suffering from an eating disorder may have devastating effects on one’s health, despite being a professional athlete. The portrait of an elite athlete is difficult to make. The aspects that need to be examined and taken into consideration are complex and they are continually evolving.

For what is worth, the common picture that we all refer to is that first in line is the amount of effort and hard work that builds a sports career. Along with hard training and effort motivation, talent and the athlete`s personality are also very important and they have the power to shape performance. The life style of an athlete can be so demanding and stressful that the risk of developing an eating disorder is not easy to be ignored. Most of the times a gymnast needs to maintain a certain weight level in order to be qualified for a competition. On the other hand society serves so many distorted standards when it comes to weight and beauty. The major risk for developing eating disorders involves a deep interest in and emphasis on a slim body and its relationship to the alleged improved athletic performance. Coaches and everyone involved in sports are urged to recognize that such an emphasis on bodyweight, on its thinness disregarding athletes’ health may be the most important factor in developing eating disorders. It is very important to have a diagnostic as soon as possible since the treatment is much more effective if it is initiated close to the illness debut. It certainly prevents emotional traumas and organic damages.

Keywords: eating disorders, sports, performance, anorexia, intervention, prevention