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.
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.
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).
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).
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.