Adolescent aesthetic athletes: a group at risk for eating pathology?

Eat Behav. 2012 Apr;13(2):119-22. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.11.002. Epub 2011 Nov 12.


Previous research shows that leanness- and weight-dependent sports increase the risk of developing disturbed eating behaviour. This study investigated whether adolescent aesthetic athletes (n=68, M=14.6 years), particularly ballet dancers and figure skaters, exhibit more eating pathology compared to the general population. Furthermore, it was investigated whether sport-related factors have explanatory value for the dieting behaviour of aesthetic athletes. To asses eating pathology, reliable and valid self-report questionnaires were used including the Eating Disorder Inventory-II, the Children's Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire and the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. Results show that female aesthetic athletes show more drive for thinness, features of bulimia, dieting behaviour and concerns about weight and shape compared to female adolescents from the general population. Concerning the explanation of dieting behaviour in aesthetic athletes, both sport-related factors (competition state anxiety) and general risk factors (eating concern) seem to be relevant. These results suggest that female aesthetic athletes show more disturbed eating behaviour and thoughts than female adolescents from the general population and therefore may have an enhanced risk of developing clinical eating disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Child
  • Dancing / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Skating / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult