Wasting away: the influences of weight management on jockeys’ physical, psychological and social wellbeing

Sullivan, Vivienne M (2008) Wasting away: the influences of weight management on jockeys’ physical, psychological and social wellbeing. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Little research has examined the effects of weight management on jockey’s wellbeing. However, there is a consensus that pervasive weight-loss practices (WLP) in the racing industry negatively impact on jockey’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The research reported herein examined the effects of the WLP used by flat-race jockeys on their physical, psychological and social wellbeing. In Study 1, 42 jockeys (10 women and 32 men) completed questionnaires examining eating behaviour, WLP and their physical, psychological and social effects of WLP. In Study 2, six male jockeys completed race day and non-race day assessments of WLP and mood and were interviewed about their experiences. In Study 3, eight jockeys (two women and six men); five family members (three wives and two fathers); and six industry professionals were interviewed about their perceptions and experiences of the lives of jockeys. Together the results of the studies showed that the WLP of jockeys have serious negative effects on their physiological, psychological and social wellbeing. Jockeys experience symptoms of life-threatening heat illness, negative mood, limited social interactions and strained relationships. Disordered eating behaviour was common and many jockeys reported symptoms consistent with DSM IV-TR disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Depression, General Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia. Weight restriction symbolised a range of other restrictions that characterise jockeys’ lives. The term, Occupational Weight-Loss Disorder (OWLD) was coined to describe and explain the findings. Recommendations to reduce the harms documented included determining minimum weights, increasing time off, professional advice and profession suitability.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2029
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > RFCD Classification > 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Racing industry, flatrace jockeys, weight loss practices, disordered eating behaviour
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