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Eating disorders and disordered eating: the hidden role of sporting organisations and how the cycle can be broken


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McMahon, J ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8939 2020 , 'Eating disorders and disordered eating: the hidden role of sporting organisations and how the cycle can be broken', in M Lang (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare , Routledge, London, UK, pp. 163-172.

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This chapter draws on sport research to highlight the pressure and abuse athletes face as they attempt to achieve the culturally accepted athletic body shape (e.g. fatless/lean) which is perceived to enhance performance output. Research has revealed that insiders of sporting organisations (e.g. coaches/team managers/athletes) implement various bodily practices (e.g. daily weigh-ins, skin fold tests, long runs, abuse of prescription drugs) in an attempt to achieve the fatless and lean athlete body. A case is made suggesting that athletes developing eating disorders and engaging with disordered eating practices occur as a result of their sport participation, which in turn has been found to have detrimental effects for the athlete in the long term (i.e. up to 30 years after they have left the sport). The second half of the chapter outlines proposed strategies that sporting organisations could implement to ensure athlete welfare is placed as a priority. By drawing on eating disorder and disordered eating literature in sport, it is hoped that this chapter makes known the bodily experiences of athletes as well as suggested strategies that sporting organisations may implement to ensure athlete well-being is a priority.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:McMahon, J
Keywords: abuse, eating disorders, sport, body shaming
Publisher: Routledge
DOI / ID Number: 10.4324/9780429201745-19
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 The Authors. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare on 26 October 2020, available online:

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