Eating Disorders in Athletes


Kimiko Hirai Soldati, a 2004 Olympic diver, remembers exactly when her bulimia started.

She was transferring from Colorado State to Indiana University, and one day she felt she had eaten too much. “The idea popped into my head that I could get rid of this,” she says.

And so she threw up.

That set her on a desperate course. At one point, she says, she was “purging pretty much everything I ate. I was so obsessed about calories that I didn’t want to chew gum because there are 5 calories in a stick.”

At least one-third of female athletes have some type of disordered eating, according to two studies of college athletes done by eating disorder experts, one in 1999 by Craig Johnson of the Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital in Tulsa and another in 2002 by Katherine Beals, now at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

In the 2002 study of 425 female college athletes, 43% said they were terrified of being or becoming too heavy, and 55% reported experiencing pressure to achieve or maintain a certain weight. Most said the pressure was self-imposed, but many also felt pressure from coaches and teammates.

The above quotes come from an article on USA Today by Andy Gardiner. Here’s the full article.

For a good overview on eating disorders, check out this Wikipedia entry.

One thought on “Eating Disorders in Athletes

  • August 24, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    There’s a new book coming out in spring of ’08 called, “Exercise Balance: What’s Too Much, What’s Too Little, and What’s Just Right for You.” It’s got reat imformation for elite athletes, as well as excessive exercisers. I recommend that you get a copy when it’s available. One of the authors is Ron Thompson who is an expert in this field.


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