The frequent over-emphasis on winning in sports may drive some young athletes to abuse their body's nutritional status, often with dangerous consequences. Some athletes starve themselves to qualify or "make weight" for a particular weight category in a sport, or to make themselves look more attractive for sports where physical appearance is considered important (such as figure skating, gymnastics or ballet). Other athletes overeat in order to bulk up to become a more imposing physical presence in their sport.
- Unhealthy weight loss through anorexia (not eating) or bulimia (making yourself vomit after eating) can lead to complications such as ulcers or reduced bone density.
- Unhealthy weight gain can lead to obesity.
- Unsupervised weight fluctuations can interfere with the normal development of your child's growing body.
How Boston Children's approaches athletes' weight
In and of themselves, weight loss and weight gain for the sake of athletic competition are not dangerous. Doctors at Children's are happy to help your young athlete with his or her athletic goals by using safe and practical measures, such as nutritious dieting and exercise.