Factors Associated with Eating Disorders in Male Athletes
Sports Medicine Department, National Sports Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria
Keywords: Eating disorders, male athletes, EDE-Q, type of sport, level of athletic participation
Objectives: Pertaining literature is inconclusive and fails to explain sport-related factors for disordered eating in male athletes. The aim of this sudy was to identify some risk factors that may contribute to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors in male athletes according to type and level of participation to sports activity.
Material and Methods: A cross-sectional Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) survey was conducted to determine the prevalence of disordered eating among male athletes and non-athletes. The total sample of participants consisted of 186 males, 18-26 years old. The male athletes were divided into groups according to sport type (“lean” sports and “non-lean” sports) and athletic participation (recreational athletes, low- and high-competitive level).
Results: The mean values of all subscales of EDE-Q revealed no significant difference for non-athletes and athletes, as well as between the groups according to sports type and competitive level. About 50% of the non-athletes reported binge eating episodes, etc., vs. 42.0% of athletes differences being insignificant. The percentages of excessive exercising for the same groups were 12.5% and 23.1%, respectively. The prevalence of excessive exercising in “lean” sport athletes (38.2%) was significantly higher than in “non-lean” athletes (13.8%). Self-induced vomiting and use of laxatives were with low prevalence in all surveyed groups. We did not identify any differences between groups according to level of athletic participation, with the exception of a higher percentage in male athletes with high competitive level with scores ≥4 for the dietary restraint subscale.
Conclusion: This study identified the presence of disordered eating patterns and pathogenic weight control behaviors in both male athletes and non-athletes, the difference between them was statistically insignificant. Among the pathological weight-controlling behaviors, only the compulsive exercising was with higher incidence rate in athletes of “lean” sports when compared with “non-lean” sports. There were significant differences in prevelance of dietary restraints in highly competitive athletes in terms of level of athletic participation. Considering the levels of participation, only those who were at a higher competitive level have performed more dietary restrictions. It is not possible to say that type of sport and level of participation pose a greater risk for eating disorders in male athletes. There is need for further research examining other factors that may relate to eating disorder attitudes and behaviors in male athletes.
Cite this article as: Dimitrova D, Vanlyan G. Factors associated with eating disorders in male athletes. Turk J Sports Med. 2019;54(2):89-98.