The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) released a statement on “Safe Weight Loss and Maintenance Practices in Sport and Exercise” at the 62nd Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia, New Orleans. The statement, published in the June 2011 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, says unsafe weight management practices can compromise athletic performance and negatively affect an individual’s health.

“Active people sometimes adopt negative behaviors due to a poor body image from misinformation or influences from coaches, parents or peers,” said Paula Sammarone Turocy, EdD, ATC, department chair at the John G. Rangos, Sr, School of Health Sciences at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa, chair of the position statement writing group. “We are providing these safe weight loss practices and maintenance recommendations to ensure the health, well-being and performance of all athletes and physically active individuals, and educate the health experts, parents, coaches and others who work with them.”

Craig A. Horswill, PhD, adjunct professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, a member of the statement writing group, said “Athletic trainers and other health professionals are pivotal in the health of athletes in their programs.” Dietary restrictions over time can adversely affect the endocrine system, which can hinder the growth and functioning of muscles and bones, according to the statement.

“The most common unsafe methods for achieving weight-loss goals include mixing dehydration with food restriction and improper dieting to reduce body fat,” said Horswill.

“Weight loss becomes a problem when nutritional needs are not met or adequate hydration is not maintained,” said Douglas B. Gregory, MD, pediatrician, chair-president of Lakeview Medical Center, Suffolk, Va, fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This position statement by NATA gives health care professionals scientifically based recommendations to implement safe weight loss and weight maintenance programs for their physically active clients and athletes.”

[Source: NATA]