Patterns of weight loss and regain in wrestlers: has the tradition changed?
To assess current weight loss practices in wrestlers, 63 college wrestlers and 368 high school wrestlers completed a questionnaire that examined the frequency and magnitude of weight loss, weight control methods, emotions associated with weight loss, dieting patterns, and preoccupation with food. Clear patterns emerged showing frequent, rapid, and large weight loss and regain cycles. Of the college wrestlers, 41% reported weight fluctuations of 5.0-9.1 kg each week of the season. For the high school wrestlers, 23% lost 2.7-4.5 kg weekly. In the college cohort, 35% lost 0.5-4.5 kg over 100 times in their life, and 22% had lost 5.0-9.1 kg between 21 and 50 times in their life. Of the high school wrestlers, 42% had already lost 5.0-9.1 kg 1-5 times in their life. A variety of aggressive methods wer used to lose weight including dehydration, food restriction, fasting, and, for a few, vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics. "Making weight" was associated with fatigue, anger, and anxiety. Thirty to forty percent of the wrestlers, at both the high school and college level, reported being preoccupied with food and eating out of control after a match. The tradition of "making weight" still appears to be integral to wrestling. The potential physiological, psychological, and health consequences of these practices merit further attention.
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