Link between high levels of athleticism and eating disorders
A recent study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that undergraduate females who are involved in sports and exercise activities are more likely to have attitudes that are similar to those one would find in individuals with an eating disorder. Additionally, the study found that those with higher levels of anxiety about the sport or exercise that they engage in are at greater risk of both experiencing body dissatisfaction and symptoms of an eating disorder. This is the first study to document a link between high levels of athleticism and risk for eating disorders. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that reviews the study’s findings:
The study was conducted with 274 female undergraduates from a large southeastern university. It examined whether differences in eating disorder symptoms exist between women who are varsity athletes (exercised an average of two hours per day), club athletes (practiced their sport an average of four times per week), independent exercisers (people who exercised on their own at least three times per week) and non-exercisers (people who exercise 0-2 times per week on average).
All participants completed the Eating Disorders Inventory, a self-report measuring eating related behaviors and attitudes; the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale, a measurement tool used to evaluate self-esteem; and the Physical Activity and Sport Anxiety Scale, a questionnaire used to assess social fear and avoidance of physical activity or athletic situations.