The role of exercise dependence for the relationship between exercise behavior and eating pathology: mediator or moderator?

J Health Psychol. 2008 May;13(4):495-502. doi: 10.1177/1359105308088520.


Our study examined the potential mediating or moderating effect of exercise dependence on the exercise-eating pathology relationship. Female university students (N = 330) completed Internet-based self-report measures of exercise behavior, exercise dependence, and eating pathology. Exercise dependence served as a mediator for the relationship between exercise and eating pathology. This unidirectional causal model suggests that an individual's pathological motivation or compulsion to exercise is the critical mediating component in the exercise-eating pathology relationship. The best target for removing the link between exercise behavior and eating pathology may be reformulating exercise dependence symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires