Article Text

Download PDFPDF

2016 update on eating disorders in athletes: A comprehensive narrative review with a focus on clinical assessment and management
  1. Elizabeth Joy1,
  2. Andrea Kussman2,
  3. Aurelia Nattiv3
  1. 1Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  2. 2Department of Family Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Departments of Family Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth A Joy, Community Health, Intermountain Healthcare, 36 S. State St. 8th Floor, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, USA;{at}


Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can have devastating effects on both the health and performance of athletes. Compared to non-athletes, both female and male athletes are at higher risk of developing an eating disorder. This is especially true for athletes participating in sports where low body weight or leanness confers a competitive advantage. Screening for disordered eating behaviours, eating disorders and for related health consequences should be a standard component of preparticipation examinations, and team physicians should be knowledgeable of the updated diagnostic criteria for eating disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V. Athletes with eating disorders should undergo thorough evaluation and treatment by an experienced multidisciplinary team. Team physicians play a critical role in decision-making on clearance for participation and return to play. Using evidence-based guidelines for clearance and return to play encourages transparency and accountability between the sports medicine care team and the athlete. Efforts to prevent eating disorders should be aimed at athletes, coaches, parents and athletic administrators, and focused on expanding knowledge of healthy nutrition in support of sport performance and health.

  • Eating disorder

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.