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Sport by Sport

September 08, 1997|NEWSDAY

Most studies and anecdotal accounts of the prevalence of disordered eating have focused on one sport at a time. Below are some findings and estimates of prevalence in some of the sports studied:

* Diving: Approximately 25% to 30% of female college divers are either anorexic or bulimic, says Jennifer Magnum, former National Collegiate Athletic Assn. champion diver and recovering bulimic.

* Long-distance running: A 1993 study found that 33% of elite female cross-country runners and 27% of elite female distance runners had eating disorders. Another study of elite distance runners found that 13% were anorexic.

* Tennis: Julie Anthony, a tennis pro in the 1970s and now a sports-fitness clinic operator in Colorado, has estimated that 30% of the women on the professional tennis tour suffer from some type of eating disorder. Dr. Carol Otis, chief medical advisor for women's professional tennis, termed that estimate "reasonable."

* Swimming: A survey of elite female swimmers reported that 70% between the ages of 9 and 18 were skipping meals to lose weight. Another study of elite female swimmers revealed that nearly 70% had been told by their coaches to lose weight; 60% reported their weight was regularly measured; and 41% believed they need to lose weight to swim faster.

* Gymnastics: One study of female college gymnasts showed that 62% practiced pathogenic weight control behaviors (serious forms of disordered eating). Another study of Big Ten college gymnasts found that about 50% were not practicing healthy eating behaviors and a large majority who scored poorly at the NCAA championships were unhappy with their weight or eating habits (90% in vault, 82% in floor, 100% in the all-around).

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