Wells KR, Jeacocke NA, Appaneal R, et al. Br J Sports Med Epub ahead of print: 2020
Identification, evaluation and management of disordered eating (DE) is complex. DE exists along the spectrum from optimised nutrition through to clinical eating disorders (EDs).
Individual athletes can move back and forth along the spectrum of eating behaviour at
any point in time over their career and within different stages of a training cycle. Athletes are more likely to present with DE than a clinical ED. Overall, there is a higher prevalence of DE and EDs in athletes compared with non-athletes. Additionally, athletes participating in aesthetic, gravitational and weight-class sports are at higher risk of DE and EDs than those in sports without these characteristics.
The evaluation and management of DE requires a cohesive team of professional practitioners consisting of, at minimum, a doctor, a sports dietitian and a psychologist, termed within this statement as the core multidisciplinary team. The Australian Institute of Sport and the National Eating Disorders Collaboration have collaborated to provide this position statement, containing guidelines for athletes, coaches, support staff, clinicians and sporting organisations.
The guidelines support the prevention and early identification of DE, and promote timely intervention to optimise nutrition for performance in a safe, supported, purposeful and individualised manner. This position statement is a call to action to all involved in sport to be aware of poor self-image and poor body image among athletes. The practical recommendations should guide the clinical management of DE in high performance sport.