Coaches, Trainers and Fitness Instructors

Athletes (both males and females) are at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than non-athletes. Studies show that approximately 20% of female athletes have eating disorders (compared to 5% of non-athletes). Rates are higher in aesthetic sports (gymnastics, figure skating), weight classes (rowing), and sports where a low body mass is seen as an advantage (cross-country or cycling).

Athletes who severely manipulate their dietary intake or engage in purging are at risk of cardiac arrhythmia. The mortality rate for eating disorders is the highest of any mental illness. So it’s critical that coaches, instructors and trainers be adequately trained to recognize the warning signs of eating disorders, understand the risks involved, use pre-screening tools and validated protocols to ensure the athlete is healthy enough to train, engage in conversations with their athletes when they have concerns, work cooperatively with treatment professionals and parents to support recovery and examine coaching language and materials to ensure the promotion of health and proper nutrition to support peak performance.

A Message for Fitness Professionals about Health at Every Size, includes info about metabolism & dangers of weight loss.

This page from a world leading Eating Disorder Treatment centre in San Diego outlines excellent information for coaches and trainers:

toolkit for coaches and trainers created by NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association).  This is a comprehensive resource from a very credible source. Highly recommended.

Athletes and Eating Disorders Resource Guide – Walden Behavioral Care

This article offers a very good background on the issue, full of facts, research, data and resources:
2016 Update on Eating Disorders in athletes: A comprehensive narrative review with a focus on clinical assessment and management
Some highlights from the article above:
  • Pre-participation Physical Examination (PPE)- developed by several US sports organizations has questions aimed at disordered eating behaviours and also looks at the consequences of eating disorders, including stress fractures, mood disturbance and substance abuse.

Mindful Movement and Recovery for Compulsive Over-Exercise

Hungry, hopeful and chasing a lie. ​Brutally honest article about long-distance runners and the risks they take by restricting in order to shave seconds off their time. Written by a professional runner.

Study from Norway on disordered eating among fitness instructors.