Athletes prone to eating disorders MDs told

A group of Ottawa doctors were warned Thursday that elite athletes are prone to developing eating disorders.

A group of Ottawa doctors were warned Thursday that elite athletes are prone to developing eating disorders.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport is hosting its "Body Sense" workshop with a group of doctors, who would likely be the first to spot an athlete's worrying weight loss.

The program, often held with elite sports teams, is designed to warn athletes about the dangers of starving themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Athletes such as Mallory Mitton, who played soccer at the Canada Games level, attested to how much food is discussed around the sports community.

"For me I found that people would point out how much I was eating, and that really affected me," Mitton said.

"I thought 'Am I not normal? Am I eating too much? I think that's where it started for me."

Eating disorders are commonplace in sports like gymnastics and figure skating, but sports psychologist Shaunna Taylor said athletes in a range of sports risk extreme weight loss.

Taylor said the Body Sense program is focused on eliminating the myth that weight loss equates to athletic success.

"That you need to have this cut, lean, or ripped body type to be an amazing athlete … to give your best," Taylor said, is a myth. As is the idea "that only one body type is the right body type."

The program involves interaction between athletes, coaches, parents and physicians, and highlights the dangers of pressure applied by coaches, or at events like team weigh-ins.

"Reality is that there's a body type for every sport, and a sport for every body type, " Taylor said.

"I try to help men and women embrace their God-given body type and work within a natural and healthy range," Taylor said.