Eating-disordered behaviors and personality characteristics of high school athletes and nonathletes

Int J Eat Disord. 1999 Jul;26(1):73-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199907)26:1<73::aid-eat9>;2-f.


Objective: To assess whether high school athletes are at risk for an eating disorder, whether personality characteristics differentiate athletes from nonathletes, and whether high levels of perfectionism put athletes at risk.

Method: 318 high school athletes were randomly matched to 360 nonathletes. Comparisons were made by means of the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI), Restraint Scale, Risk Symptom Checklist, Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ), and body mass index (BMI).

Results: Athletes did not have higher levels of disordered eating behaviors and attitudes than their nonathletic counterparts. Athletes had less negative views of life than nonathletes. However, perfectionistic tendencies may put some athletes at risk.

Discussion: High school athletes are not at greater risk for the development of an eating disorder than other students. Athlete's positive outlook on life and high self-efficacy may serve as protective factors. Alternatively, athletes may not be at risk until they train for one particular sport in a highly competitive environment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires