Disordered eating in French high-level athletes: association with type of sport, doping behavior, and psychological features
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Over the last few years, disordered eating in athletes has received increasing attention. According to several studies, athletes could be more vulnerable to disordered eating and some characteristics specific to the athletic community could be in favour of an increased risk of poor body image and disturbed eating habits in athletes. However, the literature is sparse and some methodological issues in studies have been pointed out. In this context, we aimed at determining the prevalence of disordered eating in French high-level athletes using clinical interviews of three different clinicians and identifying what are the factors associated with disordered eating in athletes.
In France, all athletes registered on the French high-level list have to undergo a yearly evaluation. Data collected during the somatic assessment, the dietary consultation, and the psychological of the yearly evaluation were used. Multivariate analysis was performed for identification of factors associated with disordered eating.
Out of the 340 athletes included, 32.9% have been detected with a disordered eating. They were difficult to detect by clinicians, as usual criteria did not seem to be reliable for athletes. Competing in sports emphasizing leanness or low body weight was associated with disordered eating; however, gender was not.
These results highlight the need for the development of specific screening tools for high-level athletes. Furthermore, the identification of factors associated with disordered eating could improve early detection and prevention program effectiveness.
KeywordsDisordered eating High-level athletes Sport Prevalence Associated factors
We wish to thank the French Health Ministry and the Foundation of France for providing financing.
Compliance with ethical standards
Role of funding sources
Financial support for this study was provided by the French Health Ministry (DS/B2 N° 08-010) and the Foundation of France (UB:032137-N° Engt 2008006365). The funding sources had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript or the decision to submit the paper for publication.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest associated with this research study.
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical measure.
All athletes declared that they were not opposed the study. Minors were able to declare their non-opposition through a legal representative. This study was approved by the Tours Ethics Committee.
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