Purpose: To identify the prevalence, magnitude, and methods of rapid weight loss among judo competitors.
Methods: Athletes (607 males and 215 females; age = 19.3 ± 5.3 yr, weight = 70 ± 7.5 kg, height = 170.6 ± 9.8 cm) completed a previously validated questionnaire developed to evaluate rapid weight loss in judo athletes, which provides a score. The higher the score obtained, the more aggressive the weight loss behaviors. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and frequency analyses. Mean scores obtained in the questionnaire were used to compare specific groups of athletes using, when appropriate, Mann-Whitney U-test or general linear model one-way ANOVA followed by Tamhane post hoc test.
Results: Eighty-six percent of athletes reported that have already lost weight to compete. When heavyweights are excluded, this percentage rises to 89%. Most athletes reported reductions of up to 5% of body weight (mean ± SD: 2.5 ± 2.3%). The most weight ever lost was 2%-5%, whereas a great part of athletes reported reductions of 5%-10% (mean ± SD: 6 ± 4%). The number of reductions underwent in a season was 3 ± 5. The reductions usually occurred within 7 ± 7 d. Athletes began cutting weight at 12.6 ± 6.1 yr. No significant differences were found in the score obtained by male versus female athletes as well as by athletes from different weight classes. Elite athletes scored significantly higher in the questionnaire than nonelite. Athletes who began cutting weight earlier also scored higher than those who began later.
Conclusions: Rapid weight loss is highly prevalent in judo competitors. The level of aggressiveness in weight management behaviors seems to not be influenced by the gender or by the weight class, but it seems to be influenced by competitive level and by the age at which athletes began cutting weight.