Weight Loss :: Weight-related sports and unhealthful weight control behaviors among adolescents

Participation by adolescents, especially males, in sports emphasizing weight, such as ballet, gymnastics and wrestling, is strongly associated with both unhealthful weight-control behaviors and steroid use, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.

The researchers studied more than 4,500 adolescents from 31 public middle and high schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The students were asked if in the past week or the past year they had engaged in self-induced vomiting, used diet pills or laxatives or engaged in any other extreme weight-control behavior.

The strongest positive associations between weight-related sport participation and unhealthful weight-control behaviors were found in males:
5.8 percent of males who reported participation in a weight-related sport had induced vomiting in the past week, compared with 0.9 percent of males who did not participate in a weight-related sport.
Use of diuretics within the past year was reported by 4.2 percent of males in a weight-related sport compared with 0.8 percent who did not participate in weight-related sports.

For females, vomiting, laxative use and steroid use were significantly associated with weight-related sports participation:
6.6 percent of females who participated in a weight-related sport had vomited in the past week compared with 3.2 percent of females who did not.
Steroid use was reported by 6.5 percent of females who perceived their sport as weight-related, compared to 2.3 percent of females who did not participate in a sport they perceived as weight-related.

?Preventive efforts, targeting parents, coaches and adolescents are needed to decrease this risk,? the researchers conclude.

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