As the ban/restriction of underweight models has taken place in several countries worldwide, in Austria, female endurance rock climbers will also not be immune. Recently reported in The Independent, the problem has become startling. The Austrian climbing federation will be implementing a ban of those rock climbers with a BMI less than 17 from competing beginning next year.
According to Jens Larssen, who runs 8a, the world ranking organization for rock climbing, "many female athletes choose to lose weight rather than build up muscle strength. It's such a successful formula that some of the best female athletes are as good as the best male climbers."
I think this is an interesting article which brings to light about the dangers of this sport. Although I remember hearing about it a long time ago, it's not something I automatically associate with eating disorders. Personally, I've never been rock climbing, but am actually quite fascinated with it. For me, it's about the climb more than anything else. It's one of the many things on my "to do" list someday.
I'm sure the average, recreational rock climber may not have issues with body weight, but it's when these athletes get into a competitive atmosphere where things can change. Carrie at ED Bites recently posted "a good thing gone wrong" in relation to an ultrarunner who had/has an eating disorder, asking the question whether her ultrarunning is just the ED in disguise or another manifestation of it.
In a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine which looked at the Anthropometric characteristics in ultrarunners of finishers in the 2007 Western States Endurance Run (100 miles), it was reported that lower BMI values were associated with faster times. Of the top five finishers for women, their BMI averaged 19.8 which would be considered on the low end of the "normal" weight spectrum. I should note that the study did say that of the overall finishers the BMIs ranged variably from a classification of overweight to underweight.
I think in many sports there is still some mentality of "lighter= faster, stronger, better, higher." However, that's truly not the case. It may seem like that for awhile, but in the end, everything catches up with the person and lighter will equal slower and weaker.
How do we get it across to athletes and people alike that weight does not equate to success and achievement?