Starving in the sport of kings : weight management and cognitive function in Australian jockeys

McGregor, Matt (2007) Starving in the sport of kings : weight management and cognitive function in Australian jockeys. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


To maintain consistently low riding-eights, many jockeys engage in repetitive cycles of rapid, short-term weight loss, termed "wasting". The physical and psychological effects of "wasting" are not well understood, although several recent studies suggest that, at least in the short-term, they may be numerous, and with any one of them having a potentially detrimental effect on both the health and riding performance of jockeys. The major aims of the research reported were to investigate the weight-management experiences of jockeys in Australia, and to examine a range of cognitive and other psychological effects of rapid weight loss in this professional athlete population. The methodological framework used to address these aims incorporated both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Four focused case studies illustrated that cognitive responses to weight fluctuations and competition were generally idiosyncratic, with variations within individuals across a range of cognitive functions and testing conditions. The exception to this finding was attentional processing speed, which appeared to be impaired in response to weight loss in most cases. Collectively, the results of the three studies indicate that the need for wasting, and the lack of safe and effective options to meet this need, continue to be pervasive and problematic facets of life for professional kockeys, in terms of their effects on psychological well-being and cognitive function.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords jockeys, weight management, riding performance, cognitive psychology
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