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Title: Nutrition, health and lifestyle of ballet dancers
Author: Lewis, Rebekah
ISNI:       0000 0001 3609 0886
Awarding Body: South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 1998
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Ballet dancing is a rigorous activity, the requisite skill acquisition for which begins at an early age. For girls, the activity requires a clearly defined body shape and composition, the attainment of which may result in low body weight and BNH, the development of eating disorders, menstrual dysfunction, and poor nutrient intake. The combination of the high levels of exercise for both sexes and the sylph-like figure required by females may have an effect upon growth and development, injury and repair, and long-term health. No evidence could be found in the literature of investigations on retired ballet dancers and the potential effects of their career upon their long-term health. Therefore, a retrospective study was carried out on sixty-three male and female dancers by means of a 'health' questionnaire. Although the results from the retrospective study showed that no serious health effects had occurred in the sample investigated, there was nevertheless a high incidence of injury amongst both sexes. During their career, the retired females were found to have had: low body weights, with many of them having been on slimming diets; a lack of knowledge concerning food and fluid intake; and poor menstrual status, including delays in menarche. It was concluded that many of the injuries sustained by the males could be attributed to their role of partnering and therefore constantly physically supporting and lifting the female dancers. No definitive work could be found on nutrient intakes of ballet dancers and no prospective studies appeared to have been carried out on the overall injury status of currently active female ballet dancers. None of the studies had concurrently assessed nutrient intake and injury status and factors which may affect this, as well as assessing their general wellbeing. Thus, thirty-eight pre-professional female ballet dancers were recruited to the prospective study. All types of injury from minor to major were recorded over a period of ten weeks, concurrent with life events and menstrual patterns. During this period, nutrient intake was also estimated over seven consecutive days using the weighed inventory method. The dancers completed a general background questionnaire; EAT-26 and BIT'E - two screening questionnaires clinically used to assess for the symptoms of anorexia and bulimia nervosa; and, a nutritional quiz compiled by the author and largely based on what the students had been taught. The dancers had significantly lower dietary intakes of energy, carbohydrate, fat, iron, and NSP than their relative DRV's. Low intakes of energy and particularly carbohydrate could reduce muscle glycogen concentrations, and thus promote fatigue. The dancers had busy schedulesw hich restrictedt heir ability to eat well and the majority of them had poor nutritional knowledge. The injury rates of the majority of the dancers were found to be high and a statistically significant correlation was found between these injury rates and fatigue. These findings suggest that the dancers needed to receive a more fruitful method of nutrition education and have less hectic schedules, a combination of which could well result in the dancers having greater opportunity to eat well and rest sufficiently to reduce their overall levels of fatigue, enhance their overall feeling of wellbeing, and thus, possibly, reduce the risk of injury.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Adolescent growth ; Eating disorders ; Diet