Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Eating Disorders in Sport and Recreation

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There are four types of clinically recognized eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified. Sport is a competitive and body-focused world that can trigger eating disorders in athletes. Eating disorders can be caused by many different things, but common causes are things such as: pre-occupation with weight, belief that lower body weight will improve performance, low self-esteem, family dysfunction, and pressures to be thin.

There are many warning signs and symptoms that can make eating disorders visible. Things such as: chronic injuries, rigidity around food and exercise, training beyond prescribed routine, and training when injured could all be warning signs of an eating disorder in an athlete.

Eating disorders affect the body as a whole. The physiological damage is said to be the worst part of the illness. The physical effects on the body are: electrolyte imbalances, cardiac arrhythmia, low blood pressure, heart failure, osteoporosis, muscle loss, severe dehydration, fainting and fatigue, and dry hair and skin.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a long process that takes a lot of time and energy. Different patients need different types of care, what works for one person may not work for others. Counselling, group therapy and nutritional counselling are common ways to reach recovery. Depending on how sick the patient is, inpatient treatment may be the only choice for proper help. However, full Recovery is often not possible but the goal is to get their eating disorder to a manageable level that does not seriously impact the health or day to day life of the patient.

Interesting Links

National Eating Disorder Association:

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:

Local Self-Help Resources

UNB Dietitian (Free to all students with a Valid Student ID) : 453-4837

UNB Counselling Services (Free to all students with a Valid Student ID) : 453-4820

CHIMO Hotline (24hr Confidential Phone Counselling) : 450-4357

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