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Policy Targets Disordered Eating in Youth Athletes

American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes healthy weight control

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Alarmed by unhealthy weight-control practices among youths, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement promoting healthy weight control for young athletes. The policy is published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Many young people are involved in sports in which weight loss or weight gain are seen as positive, and disordered eating behavior is common, according to the academy's Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Bodybuilding, cheerleading and gymnastics emphasize low weight; football and weight-lifting emphasize weight gain and lean muscle mass.

To lose weight, some athletes are resorting to purging, with or without bingeing. Others are gaining weight improperly, exposing themselves to health risks as adults, according to the AAP.

"Pediatricians need to be able to recognize the young athlete who is at risk of developing unsafe weight-control practices and provide the athlete, family members, coaches, athletic trainers and athletic directors with accurate information about healthy weight-control practices," the authors write.

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