Are female athletes at increased risk for disordered eating and its complications?

Appetite. 2010 Dec;55(3):379-87. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.08.003. Epub 2010 Aug 13.


The purpose of the study was to make a systematic review and describe and confront recent studies that compare the presence of disordered eating and its complications in young female athletes and controls subjects - PubMed, Scielo, Medline, ScienceDirect, WILEY InterScience, Lilacs and Cochrane were the databases used for this review. Out of 169 studies 22 were selected and 11,000 women from 68 sports were studied. The short version of the EAT was the most common instrument used to track disordered eating. Results showed that 55% found no significant difference in the percentage of disordered eating between athletes and controls. Also a higher percentage of studies reported higher frequency of menstrual dysfunction in athletes than controls and finally 50% of the studies found incidence of low bone mass in controls. Not all the studies that investigated all the conditions in the triad, but the authors concluded that it seemed that athletes were in more severe stage of this disorder. Due to the heterogeneity of the studies, a definitive conclusion about the groups and at highest risk for disordered eating and its complications remains to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amenorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Amenorrhea / etiology
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Bone Density
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Female Athlete Triad Syndrome*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports / physiology