Quality of Life Research

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 1385–1390 | Cite as

Eating disorder-specific health-related quality of life and exercise in college females




Although eating disorder (ED) symptoms result in reduced quality of life (QOL), research is needed to examine variables that influence this relationship. The purpose of our study was to conceptually examine the relationship among ED-specific QOL, ED symptoms, and exercise behavior.


Female university students (N = 387) completed ED-specific QOL, exercise behavior, ED symptoms, and exercise dependence symptoms measures.


We found support for the beneficial association of psychological QOL on ED symptoms as well as the detrimental association of exercise dependence on ED symptoms.


Our results suggest that improvements in psychological aspects of QOL resulting from exercise may mediate ED symptoms when exercise motivations are not pathological. We discuss further research and intervention implications of our findings.


Disease-specific quality of life Exercise Eating disorders 


  1. 1.
    Hay, P. J., & Mond, J. (2005). How to count the cost and measure burden? A review of health-related quality of life in eating disorders. Journal of Mental Health, 14, 539–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stice, E., Marti, C. N., Shaw, H., & Jaconis, M. (2009). An 8-year longitudinal study of the natural history of threshold, subthreshold, and partial eating disorders from a community sample of adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 587–597.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Engel, S. C., Adair, C. E., Las Hayas, C., & Abraham, S. (2009). Health-related quality of life and eating disorders: A review and update. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42, 179–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mond, J. M., Hay, P. J., Rodgers, B., & Owen, C. (2009). Comparing the health burden of eating disordered behavior and overweight women. Journal of Women’s health, 18, 1081–1089.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brown, D. W., Brown, D. R., Health, G. W., Balluz, L., Giles, H., Ford, S., et al. (2004). Associations between physical activity dose and health-related quality of life. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36, 890–896.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Martin, C. K., Church, T. S., Thompson, A. M., Earnest, C. P., & Blair, S. N. (2009). Exercise dose and quality of life. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169, 269–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    USDHHS (2008). 2008 Physical activity guidelines for Americans. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
  8. 8.
    Shroff, H., Reba, L., Thornton, L. M., Tozzi, F., Klump, K., Berrettini, W. H., et al. (2006). Features associated with excessive exercise in women with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39, 454–461.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Holm-Denoma, J. M., Scaringi, V., Gordon, K. H., Van Orden, K. A., & Joiner, T. E. (2009). Eating disorder symptoms among undergraduate varsity athletes, club athletes, independent exercisers, and non-exercisers. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42, 47–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Levitt, D. H. (2008). Participation in athletic activities and eating disordered behavior. Eating Disorders, 16, 393–404.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cook, B., & Hausenblas, H. (2010). Gender differences in exercise dependence’s affect on quality of life. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39S, S101.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cook, B. J., & Hausenblas, H. A. (2008). The role of exercise dependence for the relationship between exercise behavior and eating pathology: Mediator or moderator? Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 495–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jansen, A. (2001). Toward effective treatment of eating disorders: Nothing is as practical as a good theory. Behavior Research and Therapy, 39, 1007–1022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Thome, J. L., & Espelage, D. L. (2007). Obligatory exercise and eating pathology in college females: Replication and development of a structural model. Eating Behaviors, 8, 334–349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hausenblas, H. A., Cook, B. J., & Chittester, N. I. (2008). Can exercise treat eating disorders? Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 36, 43–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cook, B., Hausenblas, H., Tuccitto, D., & Giacobbi, P. (in press). Eating disorders and exercise: A structural equation modeling analysis of a conceptual model. European Eating Disorders Review.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Abraham, S. F., Brown, T., Boyd, C., Luscombe, G., & Russell, J. (2006). Quality of life: Eating disorders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40, 150–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Adair, C. E., Marcoux, G. C., Cram, B., Ewashen, C. J., Chafe, J., Cassin, S. E., et al. (2007). Development and multi-site validation of a new condition-specific quality of life measure for eating disorders. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 5, 23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Engel, S. C., Wittrock, D. A., Crosby, R. D., Wonderlich, S. A., Mitchell, J. E., & Kolotkin, R. L. (2006). Development and psychometric validation of an eating disorder-specific health-related quality of life instrument. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39, 62–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Las Hayas, C., Quintana, J. M., Padierna, A., Bilboa, A., Muñoz, P., Madrazo, A., et al. (2006). The new questionnaire health-related quality of life for eating disorders showed good validity and reliability. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 59, 192–200.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    American Psychological Association (2007). APA public interest government relations office, eating disorders. http://www.apa.org/ppo/pi/eating_disorders_fact_sheet.pdf.
  22. 22.
    Haines, J., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2006). Prevention of eating disorders and obesity: A consideration of shared risk factors. Health Education Research, 21, 770–782.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Green, S. B. (1991). How many subjects does it takes to do a regression analysis? Multivariate Behavioral Research, 26, 499–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Berg, K. C., Frazier, P., & Sherr, L. (2009). Change in eating disorder attitudes and behavior in college women: Prevalence and predictors. Eating Behaviors, 10, 137–142.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hausenblas, H. A., & SymonsDowns, D. (2002). How much is too much? The development and validation of the exercise dependence scale. Psychology and Health, 17, 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Godin, G., & Shephard, R. J. (1985). A simple method to assess exercise behavior in the community. Canadian Journal of Applied Sports Science, 10, 141–146.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Haskell, W. L., Lee, I., Pate, R. R., Powell, K. E., Blair, S. N., Franklin, B. A., et al. (2007). Physical activity and public health. Updated recommendation for adults from the American college of sports medicine and the American heart association. Circulation, 116, 1081–1093.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Stice, E., Telch, C. F., & Rizvi, S. L. (2000). Development and validation of the eating disorder diagnostic scale: A brief self-report measure of anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Psychological Assessment, 12, 123–131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hays, R. D., Hahn, H., & Marshall, G. (2002). Use of SF-36 and other health-related quality of life measures to assess person with disabilities. Archives of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation, 83, S4–S9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Doll, H. A., Peterson, S. E., & Stewart-Brown, S. L. (2005). Eating disorders and emotional and physical well-being: Associations between student self-reports of eating disorders and quality of life as measured by the SF-36. Quality of Life Research, 14, 705–717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Mond, J. M., Rodgers, B., Hay, P. J., Owens, C., & Beaumont, P. J. V. (2004). Relationship between exercise behaviour, eating disordered behaviour and quality of life in a community sample of women: When is exercise “excessive”? European Eating Disorders Review, 12, 265–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Padierna, A., Quintana, J. M., Arostegui, I., Gonzalez, N., & Horcajo, M. J. (2000). The health-related quality of life in eating disorders. Quality of Life Research, 9, 667–674.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Klump, K. L., Bulik, C. M., Kaye, W. H., & Treasure, J. (2009). Academy for eating disorders position paper: Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42, 97–103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    American College of Sports Medicine. (2005). ACSM’s resource manual for guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (7th ed.). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations