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Overlooked and Underdiagnosed: Eating Disorders and Male Athletes

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Maria Balaceanu

Eating disorders may be overlooked and underdiagnosed in male athletes. Classification of eating disorders primarily focuses on symptoms experienced by females (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Male athletes are more likely to be diagnosed with anorexia athletica and non-specific eating disorders compared to male non-athletes (Karrer et al., 2020). Symptoms of eating disorders are frequently dismissed by male athletes, parents, and coaches. However, early detection is critical for preventing eating disorders. Practices within some sports promote unhealthy relationships with food, exercise, and the body (Compte et al., 2018). Athletes may have a biological predisposition to body and eating-related disorders. These environments and specific stressors in weight-sensitive sports may cause vulnerable athletes to exhibit eating- and body-disorders in an attempt to attain ideal standards (Firoozjah et al., 2022). Coaches and parents pressure athletes to perform at a competitive level. Which may result in athletes developing an eating disorder, to gain a sense of control over their athletic performance (Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013). Eating disorders in male athletes are often accompanied by previous anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are risk factors associated with eating- and body-related disorders in male athletes (Liu & Cao, 2022). Recognizing male athletes who have an eating disorder is challenging, but is necessary for recovery. This paper will review the literature on male athletes and eating and body-related disorders, propose a revision to the classification of eating and body-disorders, and provide targets for prevention and intervention. Prevention and intervention should raise awareness about male athletes' eating and body-related disorders. Athletes, families, and athletic coaches should be educated about warning signs of eating disorders as well as effective comprehensive therapeutic interventions. Athletes and their families may be required to make personal sacrifices to promote recovery and focus on their overall health.
University / Institution: Utah Tech University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #C62
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dannelle Larsen-Rife