Thursday, June 23, 2011

Athletic Trainers Safe Weight Loss Statement

The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) issued a statement Monday of recommendations for coaches, players, and athletic trainers regarding safe weight
loss and maintenance practices for athletes. The group hopes its recommendations will help reduce a disturbing prevalence of eating disorders and unsafe weight-maintenance habits that affect up to 62% of athletes.

NATA's statement emphasizes the importance of a well-rounded diet to an
athlete's performance and weight maintenance, the dangers of unsafe practices to long-term health, and the need for including medical professionals when
deciding on a safe weight.

Former LSU gymnast Ashleigh Clare-Kearney addressed NATA members at their
annual convention Monday in New Orleans.Clare-Kearney, one of the most decorated
gymnasts in LSU women's gymnastics history, was the physical and emotional
exception in the gymnastics world during her career. At 5-foot-5 and 150 pounds, the
two-time NCAA champion outsized most of her fellow gymnasts who she says are
traditionally around five feet, 100 pounds.

Emotionally, Clare-Kearney's self-esteem and comfort with her weight were also
rarities in a culture she describes as "very high up there with sports like wrestling with the number of eating disorders and issuesof that nature relative to other sports."

"I definitely saw a lot of people who either didn't eat at all or ate and threw it up
because they were trying to fulfill this image …" says Clare-Kearney, who went on to
become an assistant coach at LSU after graduating in 2008. "They needed to
understand that food is fuel for your body and they were actually hurting themselves
You can't perform if you don't eat."

According to Paula Turocy, chair at the John G. Rangos Sr. School of Health Sciences at Duquesne University and chair of the group that wrote the NATA statement, the goal is to dispel common misconceptions that lead to unsafe weight maintenance practices like the ones Clare-Kearney described. Particularly dangerous is the idea that adjustments to an athlete's weight can be achieved quickly,says LSU senior associate athletic trainer Shelley Mullenix.
Source: USA Today 6/21/11


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