Extreme Fitness Masks Eating Disorders

The media has long been accused of presenting images that raise physical standards of beauty to impossibly high levels. Young girls, it has been argued, are extremely susceptible to comparing themselves to others, and the constant exposure to celebrities and models that are made to look perfect create feelings of inadequacy in girls.

Now attention is being drawn to another arena in which young girls tend to emulate older examples of physical beauty. Young women involved in certain sports, say experts, may be relying on fitness to mask a serious problem with an eating disorder. These role models may be a poor example for young girls. These role models may be a poor example for young girls.

Beneath the exterior showing a young woman at the top of her athletic career, there may be a pattern of severe calorie restriction and an extreme exercise regimen. Athletes who suffer from a combination of symptoms are defined as having Female Athlete Triad Syndrome, as discussed in a recent Opposing Views article online.

The syndrome threatens the overall health of the athletes through a combination of three main problems. The athletes suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, experience a cessation or infrequency of menstruation, and show symptoms of osteoporosis.

While experts believe that the syndrome generally affects mainly elite female athletes, they also estimate that approximately 5 percent of active women are affected. In fact, certain sports that focus on weight control, such as gymnastics, dance and ice-skating may have higher numbers of women struggling with the syndrome.


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