Loss of appetite, the hidden face of athletes’ mental health problems

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Simone Biles also Naomi Osaka They made it clear that it was time to treat and care for the mental health of athletes, too. A long process because of the taboos that still exist today regarding these diseases. One of the most invisible things when it comes to sports is Anorexia.

The The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) Anorexia is defined as “a syndrome of food refusal due to a psychological state of fear of gaining weight, which can have serious pathological consequences.” Thus, anorexia nervosa is an “extreme fear of gaining weight” or “distorting the body’s image to appear fat or fat despite being too thin or too thin”.

This problem is not peculiar to sports. In particular, it has been associated with disciplines such as gymnastics, artistic and rhythmic, or figure skating. The case that shocked the world was the gymnast’s case Christy Henry. Came to be at the gates Olympic GamesBut his illness led to his death. He died in 1994, at the age of 22, due to several organ failures due to starvation.

Heinrich case

in it World Championship In 1989, Kristi Heinrich dropped five hundred from the point of perfection in her uneven bars routine. A year ago he was disqualified from 1988 Olympics to break out of a point. And indeed in Barcelona 1992 He could not be present due to the anorexia and bulimia problems he suffered.

Barcelona Olympic Games 92

Barcelona Olympic Games 92

A person who is considered one of the best gymnasts in the world United State It was rated as not good enough. But the problem was not there, but rather the insults, in the media pressure on the weight with which the turmoil and then his death ended. Heinrich’s death marked a turning point in this case, but much remains to be done.

More and more cases of abuse of toxic environments are being revealed in the world of sports. Especially when it comes to women’s sports. And not only in the United States. AustraliaAnd CanadaAnd United kingdomAnd Holland as well as in Spain. Countries in which different types of violations are being reported are on the rise.

Few would think that this was the end of the gymnast. her fiance, Bo MorenoShe remembers it this way: “They were all her friends. I talked to everyone. That was one of the things that made me fall in love with her. Outside the gym, she was so different than she was inside.” Kristi Heinrich came to USA national team 15 years old

His goal was the Olympics. He fought to be in 1988 and failed, thus he focused all his efforts on appointing Barcelona. In this Olympic cycle, the gymnast fell into the deep. Shortly before his death, he revealed in an interview about it Al Fongher coach, pressured her to lose weight, comparing her to Pillsbury Dupuy (fresh poppy).

Pillsbury Dogboy (Bobby Frisco), the mascot and logo of Pillsbury Corporation

Pillsbury Dogboy (Bobby Frisco), the mascot and logo of Pillsbury Corporation


Given this, the athlete tried to lose weight in any way. Something that took him to the portals of anorexia. An extreme case, but not unique, even if it was not with such a fatal outcome. Nancy Theiss Marshall, who was an Olympian in 1972, said her coach described her as “close to fat.” This comment was so special to him that he always mentioned that he remembered exactly where he was inside the gym and what he smelled like.

Make it visible and fight

Since what happened with Simone Biles, the emergence of mental health issues has gained weight in the sports world. But there are still many outstanding accounts. Especially when it comes to the concept of fighting stigma. Also when it comes to anorexia: “It has been consistently misrepresented as a disease of choice, and it really isn’t a favourite.”

Dr. says. Dr. Stuart MurrayDirector of the Eating Disorders Program in the Arab Republic of Egypt University of Southern California And her translated research lab in eating disorders, in data she collected The New York Times.

The US media highlights the responsibility of the media in part. Inappropriate comments, which are less and less, and also farewell to the old habit of highlighting the weight of athletes. Kathy Johnson Clark, a 1984 Olympian, revealed that she heard comments saying “Wow, you look great” when a member of the team was already ill.

In fact, when Kristi Heinrich stopped eating, at a televised event, the following was said: “Look Kristi Heinrich! She’s lost weight. She looks great.” Painful words, both initial insults and a pat on the back for being skinny…when in fact you’re sick. ‘It seems like they’re talking about cattle,’ says psychiatrist. The New York Times.

Many even pointed to Heinrich as the culprit in his death for giving in to comments and harassment. But his death led to the creation of a referral network for the treatment of eating disorders. In addition to A curriculum for coaches covering nutrition, biomechanics, sports medicine and sports psychology; As well as the teaching system.

However, the project collapsed in 2000. Currently, the focus is once again on mental health problems. From gymnastics to skiing and even athletics. There is talk of abusive environments that can lead to eating disorders and mental health. It’s time for real change.

*The images in this article are not related to the confirmed anorexia problems for gymnasts.

[Más información –  La presión acaba con las deportistas: Ashleigh Barty, Simone Biles… víctimas del ‘burnout’]

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