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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Study: Eating Disorders and Bare Midriffs – Cheerleaders "At Risk"

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010   

PHOENIX - The Arizona Wildcats just cracked football's top 10, but now there's a warning for cheerleaders on the sidelines in the Grand Canyon State and elsewhere. Cheerleaders run a serious risk of developing eating disorders, according to a recent study of their body image from the University of South Carolina.

Assistant professor Dr. Toni Torres-McGehee polled 136 college cheerleaders and found one-third of them at risk because of what they think their coaches think of their size - particularly those who wear midriff-baring uniforms.

"They felt the coaches wanted them to be smaller than they actually really were. So, it's amazing, just the impact a coach has on a cheerleader."

She hopes coaches will be more circumspect in their comments, and that her findings will prompt colleges to ensure that cheerleaders have the same types of medical care and prevention programs as other student athletes.

Torres-McGehee says she asked cheerleaders what they felt like in street clothes, cheering uniforms and midriff-baring uniforms. She found those wearing the latter at greater risk for body-image issues and other disorders.

"Regardless if it was daily clothing, a full uniform or a midriff uniform, they all wanted to be smaller. But the thing that stuck out the most was they wanted to be smallest in the midriff uniform."

Jim Lord, executive director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA), says his group's safety course addresses the issue, and cautions coaches about appropriate comments by them and their squads regarding appearance. He welcomes the study.

"This should raise the awareness level for the coaches as they teach their own cheerleaders what is appropriate from a comment standpoint; that if they're wearing bare midriffs, they need to even be more attuned to those types of factors."

The AACCA certifies individuals who are responsible for the safety of cheerleaders. It is a nonprofit founded with the support of Varsity Brands, one of several companies conducting national cheerleading competitions.



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