The Risks of Eating Disorders in Athletes

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Eating disorders in athletes are quite common. These conditions affect both men and women, resulting in serious health complications and even death. 

There is even a hidden side of athletics and eating disorders that many don’t know about.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a severe condition that should not be taken lightly and must be treated immediately. 

Eating disorders are a severe cry for attention and the downfall of a healthy lifestyle. Eating disorders can carry many different types and affect a person’s normal lifestyle from work to social situations.

 This is not something that can be buried or kept private; it is a problem that must be brought to light so that it can be dealt with.

If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, you must seek help. There are many signs of this mental condition, but many people do not experience these warning signs but tend to suffer from the effects. 

The warning signs are different in each individual that suffers from this condition. Some psychological symptoms should be experienced before a diagnosis of this condition is made. 

Warning signs may include extreme mood swings, lack of concentration, being easily angered or depressed, constant mood swings, distorted relationships, and many other types of psychological symptoms.

An eating disorder can be broken into two categories: Binge eating disorder and the other being Compulsive overeating disorder. The two differ in that the Binge eating disorder’s sufferer is out to rid themselves of food as quickly and as aggressively as possible, feeling guilty and full of self-discipline after each binge. 

On the other hand, the compulsive overeater is unable to control their overeating and will consume large amounts of food despite feeling guilty, self-disciplined, and full of self-control. Both disorders must be treated by a trained professional to be correctly diagnosed and receive treatment.

One problem that develops is increased body fat, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and cardiac arrest. This condition is called lipophilic depression. 

Other conditions that have been associated with depression in athletes include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, and overeating.

What You Should Know

Some of these conditions may seem like problems for which you would be well advised to seek treatment of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, but you should know that there are some risks to ignoring them.

An underweight person is more susceptible to cancer of the colon or rectum. An athlete who suffers from depression is at a higher risk for heart disease. The Risks of Eating Disorders in Athletes include many other diseases as well, including aneurysms, seizures, kidney failure, blindness, fertility issues, growth defects, arthritis, muscle weakness, mental retardation, and more. It’s not just an issue of gaining weight and becoming obese; it’s a whole range of difficulties resulting from a harmful lifestyle and eating disorder.

Being Anxious About Your Body

Many people tend to be obsessed with their body shape and appearance, especially when trying to get into top shape. Many athletes feel so preoccupied with the physical appearance that they ignore what they are doing on the field. 

They focus on their overall appearance instead of learning how to use their bodies to their fullest. Some of the dangers of eating disorders in athletes include: 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney failure
  • Depression
  • Kidney damage

The Risks of Eating Disorders in Athletes include a whole list of potential conditions.

As you can see, several things can be considered when determining if someone may have an eating disorder, such as depression, cardiac health, and career risk factors. 

What makes a person at risk for developing one disorder does not necessarily mean that they will create another. As previously mentioned, anyone can produce at least one eating disorder. 

Some of the behavioral risk factors that an athlete can be at risk for include: extreme workouts, low nutritional value, high-stress level, and competitiveness. 

These are all behavioral dangers that can add to an athlete having bulimia or compulsive overeating issues. In addition, some of these behavioral risk factors can lead to an athlete developing depression. Depression can make it very difficult to perform consistently. It is additionally not unusual for an athlete to have severe anxiety and depression.

There are many risks of eating disorders in athletes that need to be considered. The most reliable way to bypass them is to ensure that an athlete is getting the proper nutrition they need to succeed in their sport. 


Many times an athlete is unaware of their condition until it manifests itself. For this purpose, it is necessary to take an athlete’s medical history seriously. If an athlete notices any of the warning signs listed above, it is best to seek immediate medical treatment.