Questions remain on long-term effects of weight-loss measures on jockeys: a review

POSTED ON  |  20-07-2021

Wider questions remain around the long-term effects of participating in a sport with unforgiving minimum jockey weights, according to the authors of a just-published review. Many publications have described the behaviors employed daily by professional jockeys to achieve and maintain a minimum racing weight, Kelly Ryan and Joseph Brodine wrote in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine.

The pair, with the Department of Family Medicine at the Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, set out in their review to provide an update of recent publications that report on the impact of such practices. They found that although rapid weight-loss techniques such as calorie restriction and dehydration are commonly believed to be harmful to jockeys, little evidence exists of enduring health consequences.

Traditional weight-making and physical preparation strategies for riding have emerged as a focal point for discussion, they said, as the number of publications on jockey health has increased in recent decades. Ryan and Brodine, who cited 42 scientific papers in their review, said the studies they examined collectively indicate a need for industry-wide reform of common dietary practices and exercise regimens, which are not aligned with optimum preparation for the physiological demands of the sport.
  • “Jockeys,” they said, “appear to underestimate their energy intake while needlessly restricting their nutritional intake in a manner that does not benefit their performance and may result in certain adverse health consequences.”
Typical dietary practices tend to be low in essential micronutrients and high in carbohydrates — an unnecessarily increased energy supply that is overmatched for the modest total daily energy demands of the sport, they found.

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