BOOK REVIEWS: Eating Disorders in Sport

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 2010 Volume 21, Number 4
©2010 Gürze Books

Eating Disorders in Sport

Authors: Ron A. Thompson and Roberta Trattner Sherman
276 pages, $49.95
2010 Routledge
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Eating disorders and sport go hand in hand. The initial presentations of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and many subclinical cases of eating disorders often entail excessive exercise in a sport context. Time and time again, these issues first present in middle school, high school or college athletics, habitually in association with certain individual-focused sports such as running and gymnastics, more frequently than with team sports such as volleyball or basketball. Athletic coaches and staff members of student health programs are often the first to see the consequences of excessive sport, and they commonly seek guidance from eating disorders specialists as to what is going on, what to expect, and what to do.

In this welcome update and expansion of their 1993 classic, Helping Athletes with Eating Disorders, Ron A. Thompson and Roberta Trattner Sherman, who’ve now been studying and concerned with the eating disorders-sport connection for several decades, give us a welcome, thorough and authoritative review of the field. These authors have earned their expertise through heavy involvement with national and international sport organizations. They have consulted with and provided educational programs for the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), among others. Their discussions offer detailed reviews of the research and clinical literature pertinent to all of the topics considered: an historical and phenomenological overview of eating disorders and disordered eating in sport; the relationships among subclinical and clinical conditions in eating disorder as reflected in athletes; risk factors and ways for identifying problem eating and eating disorders in these populations; how all stakeholders in the athletic environment have a role to play in the management of eating disorders; treatment issues; and, finally, prevention and education. An outstanding chapter on medical considerations is also contributed by Pauline Powers, a member of the EDR Editorial Board.

Addressed to a broad audience of clinicians, educators, athletic personnel and other interested parties, this book covers wide territory that will be accessible and interesting to all who work in these halls. Frequently, practical guidance is offered. In my own practice, the issues raised in this book come up frequently. Patients and parents are exceedingly interested in what is safe, and what are the risks of sport participation. School nurses, athletic faculty, and guidance counselors beg for direction regarding ways to safely run their programs and how to write administrative policies.

Everyone touching on the interface of adolescents and sport– and that includes the large majority of those reading this publication–will find much to learn and to consider in this book.

— JY

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