International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. It is common practice in combat sports that athletes rapidly lose body weight before a match, by applying different practices—some safer and others possibly dangerous. The factors behind the choice of practices utilised have not been fully studied. This study aimed to investigate the weight loss strategies used by Italian boxers and to look at the difference between higher and lower risk practice adaptors. A modified version of a validated questionnaire has been sent to 164 amateur (88%) and professional (12%) boxers by email. A heatmap with hierarchical clustering was used to explore the presence of subgroups. Weight loss strategies were used by 88% of the athletes. Two clusters were found, defined by the severity of weight loss behaviours. Professional fighters, high-level athletes and females were more represented in Cluster 2, the one with more severe weight-loss practices. These athletes were characterised by a higher weight loss magnitude and frequency throughout the season and reported being more influenced by physicians and nutritionists, compared with the boxers in Cluster 1. Not all the weight loss practices are used with the same frequency by all boxers. The level of the athlete and the boxing style have an influence on the weight-cutting practices.
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