Mal J Nutr 23(2): 199 - 209, 2017

Rapid Weight Loss Practices among Elite Combat Sports Athletes in Malaysia
Ng Qi Xiong1, Choe Yee Xian1, Haemamalar Karppaya2, Chai Wen Jin2 & Amutha Ramadas1


ABSTRACT

Introduction: This study aimed to (i) determine rapid weight loss (RWL) practices among Malaysian elite combat sports athletes and (ii) examine the relationship between the characteristics of athletes, self-reported history of weight loss, perceived influence on weight loss and RWL practices.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted at the Malaysian National Sports Institute among elite combat sports athletes (n=40) recruited via a convenience sampling method. The athletes completed a self-administered validated Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire. Each response was provided a score and the total RWL score corresponded to the aggressiveness of weight management methods. Partial correlations were used to assess the relationships between total RWL score and independent variables.
Results: The prevalence of RWL among the athletes was high (92.5%). Training with rubber or plastic suits (62.2%) and meal-skipping (27.0%) were the most common RWL techniques practised by the respondents. Aggressive weight-cutting as depicted by a higher total RWL score that correlated with most weight ever lost, duration taken to lose weight, influence of training colleagues and coaches, BMI, current weight and post-competition weight regain (all p<0.05). In contrast, negative correlations were seen between total RWL score, and the age at which the athletes began competing (p<0.001), duration of competition (p<0.001), age at first participation (p<0.05), duration of participation (p<0.05) and influence of nutritionists on weight loss (p<0.05).
Conclusion: A high prevalence of aggressive weight loss among elite combat sports athletes and its association with perceived influence of sports professionals, colleagues and actual weight-related characteristics are of great concern.

Keywords: Combat sports, elite athletes, rapid weight loss, weight management

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