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Renée M. Parker, Michael J. Lambert, and Gary M. Burlingame

The present study was conducted to determine if female distance runners who report engaging in pathological food behaviors display the psychological characteristics of clinically diagnosed female eating-disordered patients. Comparisons were made among 29 eating-disturbed college runners, 31 normal college runners, 19 clinically diagnosed eating-disordered patients, and 34 nonathletic, non-eating-disordered college students. Measures included a 3-day diet journal, questionnaires collecting both personal information and information on eating behaviors and sports participation, the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), the Setting Conditions for Anorexia Nervosa Scale (SCANS), and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Without reaching eating-disordered clinical levels, the eating-disturbed runners appeared on psychological inventories as being more concerned with food and dieting than were the comparison runners and non-eating-disordered nonathletes. Only the eating-disordered group presented with significant levels of psychopathology. Implications for the athletic community are discussed.

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Joy Griffin and Mary B. Harris

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.

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Diane E. Taub and Rose Ann Benson

Since most research on eating disorders among athletes has focused on college-age samples, the present investigation examines the adolescent competitive swimmer. Three areas related to weight and eating habits were explored: general concerns about weight, use of weight control techniques, and tendencies toward anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and associated behavioral/personal characteristics. Previous research has found females to be at greater risk than males, thus gender comparisons were undertaken. Questionnaires were completed by 85 adolescent competitive swimmers attending a nationally known summer swim camp at a large midwestern university. Consistent with the cultural norm of thinness for women, young female swimmers desired weight loss more than their male counterparts did. In terms of actual pathogenic weight control techniques or eating disorder tendencies, however, few significant gender differences were found. Neither male nor female adolescent swimmers were particularly susceptible to eating disorders or pathogenic weight control techniques.

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V.G. Overdorf and K.S. Silgailis

Psychologists’ narrations have identified how difficult it is to treat individuals with eating disorders. Moreover, the further the illness has progressed, the greater is the resistance to treatment. Therefore, prevention is critical in reducing the prevalence of these disorders among female athletes. The individuals having the most contact with athletes, and thus constituting the first line of defense against this problem, are coaches. Yet, information about nutrition and proper weight control and how these topics should be properly communicated to athletes is frequently not part of a coach’s training, and consequently may not be part of a coach’s knowledge base. This study was designed to evaluate the perceived versus actual knowledge about nutrition and weight control held by high school coaches of girls’ teams (̲n = 42). Two questionnaires, designed by the investigators, were administered sequentially. The first requested perceptions on various nutritional and weight control issues. The second was a quiz on actual knowledge of nutrition and weight control. Ninety-one percent of the coaches rated their nutrition knowledge as average or above, while only 40 percent had taken any formal classes in nutrition. On the actual quiz, only 14 percent of the coaches knew what percentage of simple carbohydrates should constitute athletes’ diets, while less than half (40%) were able to identify sources of complex carbohydrates. Eleven percent of the coaches thought athletes should have a high protein diet, while almost all of them (80%) believed that muscle is gained by eating proteins. Furthermore, only eight percent were able to identify sources of low fat protein. In regard to issues of weight control, 40 percent of the coaches thought athletes would improve performance by losing weight, 33 percent had impressed on their team the need to lose several times, and 28 percent had spoken to individual athletes about the need to lose weight several times. The predominant method for monitoring weight loss in athletes was visual inspection (37%) rather than actual measurement. Moreover, 77 percent of the coaches thought weight loss had to exceed 15 percent to reflect an anorectic condition, suggesting a possible need for earlier intervention by coaches. Since 82 percent of the coaches incorrectly thought body image distortions occur equally among male and female adolescents, it seems they are unaware of the greater risk for eating disorders among female athletes. While this study represents a small sampling of coaches, the observed lack of congruence between perceived and actual knowledge regarding nutrition and weight control must be addressed if prevention of eating disorders among athletes is to become a reality.

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Jon Almquist

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Victoria Anne Catenacci, Lorraine Odgen, Suzanne Phelan, J. Graham Thomas, James Hill, Rena R. Wing, and Holly Wyatt

Background:

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) was established to examine characteristics of successful weight loss maintainers. This study compares the diet and behavioral characteristics and weight regain trajectories of NWCR members with differing physical activity (PA) levels at baseline.

Methods:

Participants (n = 3591) were divided into 4 levels of self-reported PA at registry entry (< 1000, 1000 to < 2250, 2250 to < 3500, and ≥ 3500 kcals/week). We compared self-reported energy intake (EI), macronutrient composition, eating behaviors (dietary restraint, hunger, and disinhibition), weight loss maintenance strategies, and 3 year weight regain between these 4 activity groups.

Results:

Those with the highest PA at registry entry had lost the most weight, and reported lower fat intake, more dietary restraint, and greater reliance on several specific dietary strategies to maintain weight loss. Those in the lowest PA category maintained weight loss despite low levels of PA and without greater reliance on dietary strategies. There were no differences in odds of weight regain at year 3 between PA groups.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that there is not a “one size fits all strategy” for successful weight loss maintenance and that weight loss maintenance may require the use of more strategies by some individuals than others.

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Claudia Emes, Beth Velde, Mary Moreau, Douglas D. Murdoch, and Rebecca Trussell

Two methods of introducing obese adolescents to aerobic exercise were compared. A fast-start group began with five aerobic sessions per week and gradually reduced these to three over a period of 12 weeks. A slow-start group began with one per week and gradually increased to three. A control group had an equivalent amount of time in interactive group sessions and nonaerobic activity. The program was assessed by physical fitness, anthropometry, and attendance. Results were analyzed by multivariate analysis. The method of introducing exercise to the subjects produced no significant differences on measures of fitness or anthropometry. Significant effects for time were shown for strength, push-ups, body mass index, the sum of five skinfolds, gluteal and abdominal circumferences, weight, and percent overweight. Significant differences in the absenteeism rates were shown among groups. However, no relationship was found between absenteeism and changes in weight or overall fitness levels.

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Column-editor : Susan M. Kleiner

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Mary B. Harris and Debbie Greco

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Judy Kruger, Michelle M. Yore, Barbara E. Ainsworth, and Caroline A. Macera

Background:

Physical activity (PA) plays a major role in maintaining energy balance. We examined the patterns of occupational activity, strength training, and lifestyle PA (low, medium, high) by sex and race among persons trying to control their weight (lose weight, stay about the same, not trying to lose/not trying to stay about the same).

Methods:

Population data (N = 9258) from a nationwide telephone survey were collected to examine PA patterns. Domains of PA were analyzed by sex and race.

Results:

Of those trying to control their weight, approximately 24.0% engaged in strengthening activities 2 to 3 d/wk. Among those trying to lose weight, 48.2% versus 42.2% of men (White and non-White, respectively) and 40.4% versus 35.1% of women (White and non-White, respectively) reported high volumes of PA.

Conclusions:

PA patterns among persons trying to control their weight vary by sex and race. Adults trying to control their weight are encouraged to increase levels of PA.