Eating Disorders: College Athletes at Increased Risk Research suggests that at least one-third of female college athletes exhibit some form of disordered eating behaviors. In the byline excerpt below, Enola Gorham, Clinical Director of Adult Services at Eating Recovery Center, explains why this phenomenon is so common among college athletes, outlines significant warning signs of eating disorders and offers strategies for parents to intervene and help their children seek treatment. Read the MomsTeam.com byline in its entirety here.
As college freshmen across the U.S. return home for the holidays, thousands of parents will - for the first time - discover eating disorders that developed during their child's first semester. Because the transition to college is one of the two most common life stages in which eating disorders develop, parents should be vigilant for symptoms of eating disorders as their teens return home for the mid-year break. For parents of college athletes, this phenomenon should be of particular concern. At least one-third of female college athletes exhibit some form of disordered eating behaviors, according to a 1999 study published by Craig Johnson, PhD, FAED, CEDS, chief clinical officer of the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colorado.
For many young adults, the pressures of the first semester of college can create the perfect storm for eating disorders development, and it's easy for teens to hide behaviors from their families, particularly if they go to school far away from home. Many parents won't see the outcome of this devastating development until their children return home for winter break. Dieting to avoid the "freshman 15," stress from academic and social pressures and anxiety tied to being away from home for the first time are common triggers of first semester eating disorders development. For college athletes, athletic performance pressures and the stress of juggling a full academic load while playing a sport at the collegiate level can exacerbate an already anxiety-ridden situation. Read more.