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Jockeys' Diet Leads To Eating Disorders

Armen Hareyan's picture

A team of scientists from Brunel University in London examined jockeys' diets and weight loss methods before races and its affect on their mental health.

Jockeys need to maintain light weight during the race periods and they use various methods to loose weight, such as saunas, fasting, and dieting. Standard minimum rate for a rider and a saddle together is 110lb and the maximum is 140lb. This means that both minimums are lower than average standard for an adult man: minimum rate is 80lb lower and the maximum rate is 50lb lower.

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Study examined 41 adult jockeys of average ages 31 and found that they had mood disorders, such as anxiety, anger, and depression during preparing to race period and fasting. 6 of them were suffering from eating disorders.

The study also found that flat jockeys are dieting more and need lighter weight than the others. Since 1979 the average weight for flat jockeys increased by 6%, meanwhile the average age for apprentice jockeys was increased by 37%.

The study says: "Researchers have reported that jockeys suffer constant dehydration, inadequate body fat and bone density, and an increased risk of osteoporosis. According to the researchers, jockeys should be given more psychological support as they try to reach lower and lower weights. Governing bodies must continue to explore the possibility of increasing the minimum riding weight."



I work in horse racing and am familiar with the diets jockeys have to go through. There are many arguments saying the weights should be risen ro make it easier, but then that would encourage more heavier people to go onto being a jockey and the smaller jockeys would have less work. In my opinion a jockey is sensible enough to know what damage he/she is doing to their body and would more than likely stop if it become too much. However, it's their job and they are proud of what they do because they knew what the risks of being a jockey were so if they didnt want to do it then wouldnt. For most racing goers its their dream to be riding in the saddle and therefore would do anything for it. Finally at the end of the day these people will do anything to make their dream come true and to be first across the finish line.