Disordered eating behaviors and body image in male athletes

Braz J Psychiatry. Jul-Sep 2013;35(3):237-42. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2012-0840.


Objective: To identify disordered eating behaviors and body image dissatisfaction, as well as their relationship to body fat (BF), among male athletes in high risk sports for eating disorders.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-six male athletes were divided into the following categories: weight-class sports, sports where leanness improves performance, and sports with aesthetic ideals. BF was assessed and three questionnaires were used: the Eating Attitudes Test; the Bulimic Investigatory Test, Edinburgh; the Body Shape Questionnaire.

Results: Disordered eating behaviors and body image dissatisfaction were found in 43 (27.6%) and 23 athletes (14.7%), respectively, and an association was detected between the two variables (p < 0.001). Athletes with and without disordered eating behaviors did not differ in %BF (11.0 ± 5.2% and 9.8 ± 4.0%, respectively; p = 0.106). However, athletes with body image dissatisfaction had higher %BF than those who were satisfied (12.6 ± 5.9% and 9.7 ± 3.9%, respectively; p = 0.034). There were no differences in BF, frequency of disordered eating behaviors, and body image dissatisfaction between sports categories.

Conclusion: Nearly one-quarter of athletes showed disordered eating behaviors, which was associated with body image dissatisfaction. Athletes with higher %BF were more likely to be dissatisfied with body image. There was no difference in eating behavior and body image between athletes from different sports categories.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Athletes / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / psychology
  • Body Height
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult