Bay Area Eating Disorders symposium at Packard Children’s: Eating Disorders and the Adolescent Athlete

For more information, or to pre-register for the following symposium, call (650) 724-3783 or visit

For Release: February 08, 2011

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 Stanford 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.

Event Information:

February 24, 7-9 p.m.
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford auditorium
725 Welch Rd.
Palo Alto, 94304


Todd Kleinheinz
(650) 725-9666

About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at