In this Q&A series, Dr. Paula Quatromoni (DSc, RD) answers some of the biggest questions coaches and athletic staff have to better prevent and assist athletes who may be struggling with eating disorders.
Q: Who is Needed on the Athlete Care Team For an Athlete With Disordered Eating?
A: Athletics programs at every level need to have someone identified as the point person for eating concerns, if not a full Eating Concerns Team that meets and communicates regularly about athletes at risk or in treatment. In most situations, an athletic trainer (AT) would fill this leadership role. The other members of an Eating Concerns Team would be multidisciplinary, to the extent that these providers exist.
Inside collegiate or professional sport, the sports medicine team includes a large staff of ATs and one or more sports medicine doctors. A Registered Dietitian may or may not be on staff; a nutrition professional in the community certainly should be identified and contracted as a consultant. Sports Psychology professionals may or may not be employed or contracted, and mental health counselors and/or licensed therapists should also be available if not inside athletics, in a campus counseling center or identified in the community for referral.
In the high school setting, the coordination role typically falls to the AT with support from school counselors, the school nurse and providers in the community.
Every collegiate athletics department should establish a strong referral network of providers on campus. If not employed inside Athletics, professionals in Student Health Services and/or the local community who have expertise in treating eating disorders and experience working with athletes are essential. Behavioral health programs in college health centers may or may not employ a dietitian, and on-campus providers may not have the right expertise or sufficient resources to appropriately treat an eating disorder. Most student health centers are set up simply to conduct basic assessments and triage care to outside providers. For this reason, it is essential to identify qualified treatment providers in the community.
|Eating Concerns Team Members||
Collegiate or Professional Sport
Sports Medicine Doctor (MD)
Nutrition & Mental Health Professionals, if on staff
PT, OT as needed
|Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD, RD)
Licensed Sports Psychologist
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Primary Care Doctor (MD)
Physical Therapist (for injured athletes rehabbing)
|Inform, if permission is given by the athlete||Coach
Sign up for our email list to get more Q&As/stories like this directly to your inbox
Paula Quatromoni is a senior consultant for Walden Behavioral Care, a registered dietitian, and one of the leading experts for eating disorders in athletes. She has published several papers on both clinical experiences and qualitative research on recovery experiences of athletes. Dr. Quatromoni is the Department Chair of Health Sciences and a tenured associate professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Boston University where she maintains an active, funded research program. In 2004, she pioneered the sports nutrition consult service for student-athletes at Boston University. Dr. Quatromoni was named a 2016 Outstanding Dietetics Educator from the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors (NDEP) Council. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition from the University of Maine at Orono and her Doctorate in Epidemiology from the Boston University School of Public Health.
In this Q&A series, Paula will be answering some of the biggest questions coaches and athletic staff have to better prevent and assist athletes who may be struggling with eating disorders.