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Eating disorders and disordered eating: the hidden role of sporting organisations and how the cycle can be broken


McMahon, J, Eating disorders and disordered eating: the hidden role of sporting organisations and how the cycle can be broken, Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare, Routledge, M Lang (ed), London, UK, pp. 163-172. ISBN 9780429201745 (2020) [Research Book Chapter]

PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript)
Available from 27 April 2022

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 The Authors. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare on 26 October 2020, available online:

DOI: doi:10.4324/9780429201745-19


This chapter draws on sport research to highlight the pressure and abuse athletes face as they attempt to achieve the culturally accepted athletic body shape (e.g. fatless/lean) which is perceived to enhance performance output. Research has revealed that insiders of sporting organisations (e.g. coaches/team managers/athletes) implement various bodily practices (e.g. daily weigh-ins, skin fold tests, long runs, abuse of prescription drugs) in an attempt to achieve the fatless and lean athlete body. A case is made suggesting that athletes developing eating disorders and engaging with disordered eating practices occur as a result of their sport participation, which in turn has been found to have detrimental effects for the athlete in the long term (i.e. up to 30 years after they have left the sport). The second half of the chapter outlines proposed strategies that sporting organisations could implement to ensure athlete welfare is placed as a priority. By drawing on eating disorder and disordered eating literature in sport, it is hoped that this chapter makes known the bodily experiences of athletes as well as suggested strategies that sporting organisations may implement to ensure athlete well-being is a priority.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:abuse, eating disorders, sport, body shaming
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology of culture
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Ethics
Objective Field:Social ethics
UTAS Author:McMahon, J (Dr Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:141822
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2020-11-24
Last Modified:2020-12-02

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