Because of a higher than normal incidence of pathogenic weight-loss techniques and eating disorders in athletes, 274 coaches were surveyed to discover their attitudes, knowledge, personal experiences, and recommendations regarding weight control. Coaches demonstrated relatively negative attitudes toward and limited knowledge about obesity, with a few gender and ethnic differences. They tended to make decisions about the need for weight control on the basis of appearance rather than objective indicators, and they saw more females as needing to lose weight and more males as needing to gain. Although a majority of the coaches had tried to lose weight themselves, some using dangerous weight-control techniques, they did not recommend such techniques to their athletes. Nevertheless, it is possible that their obvious concern about weight may have been interpreted by their athletes as encouragement for using pathogenic weight-loss methods.
Joy Griffin and Mary B. Harris are with the College of Education at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.