Eating disorders in athletes: overview of prevalence, risk factors and recommendations for prevention and treatment

Eur J Sport Sci. 2013;13(5):499-508. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2012.740504. Epub 2012 Nov 13.


The prevalence of disordered eating and eating disorders vary from 0-19% in male athletes and 6-45% in female athletes. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of eating disorders in adolescent and adult athletes including: (1) prevalence data; (2) suggested sport- and gender-specific risk factors and (3) importance of early detection, management and prevention of eating disorders. Additionally, this paper presents suggestions for future research which includes: (1) the need for knowledge regarding possible gender-specific risk factors and sport- and gender-specific prevention programmes for eating disorders in sports; (2) suggestions for long-term follow-up for female and male athletes with eating disorders and (3) exploration of a possible male athlete triad.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / psychology
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors