Eating problems and calorie intake levels in Swiss adolescent athletes

Int J Sports Med. 1990 Aug;11(4):249-52. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1024801.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence of eating disorders (ED), calorie intake levels and body fat measures in Swiss female athletes. Thirty athletic and 34 non-athletic adolescent Swiss females were assessed for tendencies toward eating disorders and weight preoccupation using the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI). Calorie intakes were calculated from 7-day intake records. Body compositions were determined using skin-fold measures. The athletes were divided into two groups: Those whose activities emphasize leanness (12 gymnasts, means age = 12.5 +/- 1.1 yrs), and those whose activities do not emphasize leanness (18 swimmers, mean age = 12.8 +/- 0.9 yrs). The non-athletic school-girls (mean age = 13.4 +/- 1.2 yrs) served as controls. ANOVA indicated that the gymnasts had lower body fat levels (p less than 0.01) and consumed fewer total calories (p less than 0.05) than swimmers or controls, but all groups consumed similar calories per kg/body weight. Chi square analysis indicated that similar numbers of swimmers (11%), gymnasts (1%) and controls (6%) were exceptionally preoccupied with weight (p greater than 0.05). However, more swimmers (38%) scored high on the body dissatisfaction subscale of the EDI than the gymnasts (1%) or control (9%) (p less than 0.01). In fact, more swimmers scored high on 3 subscales of the EDI compared to the other groups (p less than 0.05). It appears that disturbances in eating behaviors are not limited to sports that emphasize leanness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gymnastics
  • Humans
  • Swimming