PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Many young athletes watch what they eat – from gymnasts who want to look slender to wrestlers trying to "make weight."
But too-strict dieting can evolve into disordered eating that jeopardizes athletes' performance and health. So, as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 20-26), Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is hosting a community symposium on "Eating Disorders and the Adolescent Athlete."
The free symposium, planned for Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., will help parents, coaches and young athletes learn the warning signs of eating disorders and understand the process for seeking help.
"It’s a chance for the community to interact with experts whose work is dedicated to of the treatment of eating disorders," said James Lock, MD, PhD, psychiatric director of the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Packard Children's.
"In adolescent athletes, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate normal athletic activity from an eating disorder," said Neville Golden, MD, chief of adolescent medicine at Packard Children's.
The symposium will clear up myths about eating disorders in athletes, said Golden, who is also professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. For instance, missed menstrual periods and recurrent stress fractures aren't a normal consequence of sports; rather, they signal that nutrient needs are not being met. And it's a myth that only female athletes struggle with eating disorders – boys can be affected, too.
In addition to the misunderstandings caused by common myths, "there is a tendency to minimize the early stages of an eating disorder, to say 'It's a phase,'" said Lock, who is also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. But ignoring disordered eating often allows the problem to get worse.
"Early intervention provides the best chance of preventing progression to a serious illness," Lock said.
The symposium, including a question and answer session, will be held in the Packard Children's auditorium and feature presentations by hospital experts:
- Adolescent medicine specialist Jennifer Carlson, MD, will discuss physical health in young athletes at risk for eating disorders, including information on malnourishment in the context of athletic activity.
- Golden will describe the clinical features of Female Athlete Triad, an eating disorder characterized by low food intake, loss of menstrual periods and dangerously low bone density.
- Hans Steiner, MD, a professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science at the School of Medicine, will discuss psychiatric risk for eating disorders among high-school and college-aged athletes.
- Lock will describe clinical treatment programs for eating disorders at Packard Children's.
Inpatient and outpatient treatment at Packard Children’s includes diagnostic evaluation, medical management of complications, psychiatric evaluation and therapy, nutrition assessment and treatment, and coordination with the patient's school or work.
February 24, 7-9 p.m.
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford auditorium
725 Welch Rd.
Palo Alto, 94304
About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its core, is the largest Bay Area health care enterprise exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Long recognized as one of America’s best, we are a leader in world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty, with care ranging from the routine to rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Together with our Stanford Medicine physicians, nurses, and staff, we can be accessed through partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary care practices at more than 45 locations in Northern California and 100 locations in the U.S. western region. As a non-profit, we are committed to supporting our community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school nurse positions in local schools. Learn more at stanfordchildrens.org and on our Healthier, Happy Lives blog. You can also discover how we are Building the Hospital of the Future. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
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