Dieting and disordered eating in German high school athletes and non-athletes

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009 Oct;19(5):731-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2008.00821.x. Epub 2008 Jul 9.


The purpose of this study was to examine weight concerns, dieting, body dissatisfaction as well as eating behavior of German high school athletes and to compare disordered eating behavior of these athletes with regular high school students. Five hundred and seventy-six young athletes of Elite Sports Schools in the German state of Thuringia and a reference group consisting of 291 non-athletes from regular high schools completed a questionnaire regarding eating behavior and attitudes, dietary history, body image and demographics. The Eating Attitude Test was used to measure disordered eating. Athletes did not show a higher frequency of disordered eating than non-athletes. A binary logistic regression analysis revealed that gender and dietary experience, but not group (athletes vs non-athletes), were significant predictors of disordered eating. It can be concluded that dietary experience and female gender proved to be important risk factors of disordered eating. Participation in sports seems to be protective for developing serious eating problems, especially in girls. Potentially, regular monitoring of athletic performance by coaches might be a reason for this finding.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image*
  • Diet Fads*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires