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Did you know that youth sports can lead to eating and weight problems with certain individual kids or teenagers? Did you know that within some youth sports leagues weight restrictions are put on certain positions within a sport? Many popular sports are known to be "weight sensitive" including ballet, gymnastics, figure skating, wrestling, track/cross-country, and horse-back riding.
Did you know that football and rowing also have weight restrictions? Youth football leagues typically put caps on weights for entering the league and for certain positions. For instance, in certain leagues you must weigh 80 pounds to carry the football, and you cannot carry the ball if you weight over 100 pounds. Football and other sports typically have weight limits for safety reasons, however, in certain situations these types of weight restrictions can be detrimental to children’s health.
This is particularly true for kids who may be pursuing a certain position within a sport, or become obsessed with reaching a target weight for the sport in order to participate. This ultimately can lead to unhealthy weight loss, poor nutrition, disordered eating habits, and eating disorders.
Kids may restrict their food intake, increase their activity level, and exercise more to reach a desired weight to get a desired position. These behaviors become dangerous when they lead to dehydration, unnatural weight loss, and possibly abnormal body functions including low potassium.
These days our children have vast opportunities to participate in sports, whether it’s through school, local parks or recreations departments, sports leagues or athletic clubs. There are also multiple levels of sports in which children and teenagers compete including recreational, intramural, league, and even select. This is all in an effort to keep kids active with their peers, within their community, and for their health. What a wonderful thing!
Listen to your kids! Talk to coaches if you have concerns. Watch your child’s eating, sleeping, and activity patterns. Allow one activity per semester so kids don’t get too overwhelmed. Remember, health comes first!
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