Views & Reviews Personal View

Do gyms have responsibilities for people with eating disorders?

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 18 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3467
  1. Rony E Duncan, postdoctoral research fellow, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. rony.duncan{at}

    A few months ago, while attempting my new morning exercise routine at the local gym, I noticed a young woman in her mid-20s. Let’s call her Amy. I don’t go to the gym as regularly as I should, but each time I do, Amy is there too. While I’m trying to wake up on the treadmill Amy is coming out of the early morning aerobics class, having finished an hour long workout. While the others head to the showers, Amy heads to the bicycles. Often she is still there by the time I leave.

    I have no doubt that Amy has an eating disorder. This view is based not only on her exercise habits but also on the eating behaviour I have witnessed and her incredibly thin frame. Having shared several concerned glances with fellow gym members, I suspect I’m not the only one who is worried.

    As a researcher working in the field of ethics and adolescent health, I can’t help but wonder what constitutes appropriate action …

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