The Prevalence of Behaviors Used to Make & Maintain Weight Among Male Horse Jockeys




Dodson, Martha A.


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Objective: Determine the prevalence of weight loss behaviors used by male jockeys to make and maintain weight. Design: An original survey instrument was developed. The pilot study was distributed in a random, anonymous manner. Setting: Lone Star Park, Grand Prairie, Texas and Sunland Park, Sunland Park, New Mexico in December 2000 and January 2001 meetings respectively. Subjects: Twenty-nine male jockeys with a mean age of 34 years and mean racing career of 14 years. Mean weight was 116 pounds, mean height was 66 inches and mean body mass index was 19.6 kg/m2. Twelve jockeys were from Lone Star Park and 17 were from Sunland Park. No female jockeys participated. Results: SPSS Version 10.0 was used for data analysis. The prevalence of current usage of methods to make and maintain weight among the jockeys was 62%. The hot box was used by 85%, diuretics and semi-starvation were each used by 60%, excessive exercise 45% and flipping by 15%. The average number of methods used was 3. The hot box was the primary method used. Two of 20 jockeys felt they had an eating disorder. Conclusion: The prevalence of disordered eating behaviors among male horse jockeys is greater than that for the general male population. Their low mean body mass index may reflect a malnourished state. Pathological eating behaviors can result in a myriad of clinical abnormalities that can be deleterious to a jockey’s health and athletic performance. A national study of jockeys’ methods to make and maintain weight is recommended. Key Words: Eating disorder – disordered eating – weight-loss – athlete – jockey