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Lenka Humenikova Shriver, Nancy Mulhollen Betts and Mark Edward Payton

Background:

Many wrestlers engage in chronic dieting and rapid “weight cutting” throughout the year to compete in a category below their natural weight. Such weightmanagement practices have a negative influence on their health and nutritional status, so the National Wrestling Coaches Association implemented a new weight-management program for high school wrestlers in 2006.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether seasonal changes in weight, body fat, and eating attitudes occur among high school wrestlers after the implementation of the new weight-management rule.

Methods:

Fifteen high school wrestlers participated in the study. Their weight, body composition, and eating attitudes were measured preseason, in-season, and off-season. Body fat was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Attitudes toward dieting, food, and body weight were assessed using the Eating Attitude Test (EAT).

Results:

No significant changes in body fat were detected from preseason to off-season. Weight increased from preseason to in-season (p < .05) and off-season (p < .05). Although the EAT score did not change significantly from preseason to offseason, 60% reported “thinking about burning up calories when exercising” during preseason, and only 40% felt that way during the season (p < .05) and 47% during off-season (p < .05).

Conclusions:

The wrestlers experienced a significant weight gain from preseason to off-season with no significant changes in body fat. Their eating attitudes did not change significantly from preseason to off-season in this study, but further research using a large sample of high school wrestlers is warranted to confirm these findings.