Author(s): BachnerMelman R, Zohar AH, Ebstein RP, Elizur Y, Constantini N, BachnerMelman R, Zohar AH, Ebstein RP, Elizur Y, Constantini N, BachnerMelman R, Zohar AH, Ebstein RP, Elizur Y, Constantini N, BachnerMelman R, Zohar AH, Ebstein RP, Elizur Y, Constantini N
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Abstract PURPOSE: We tested the hypothesis that aesthetic athletes (AA) have anorexic-like eating attitudes and behaviors, share personality characteristics such as perfectionism and obsessiveness, and are at high risk of eating disorders. METHODS: We compared symptomatology, personality variables typical of anorexia nervosa, and lifetime eating disorder prevalence across four groups of Israeli women: 31 anorexics, 111 AA (mostly dancers), 68 nonaesthetic athletes (NAA), and 248 controls. All participants completed self-report measures of symptomatology, harm avoidance, perfectionism, obsessiveness, self-esteem, and self-rated facial attractiveness and were screened for eating disorders. Those screening positively were interviewed and diagnosed using the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV. RESULTS: Scores of the anorexic women differed from those of the three other groups in the expected direction on all variables. NAA scored similarly to controls, but had greater body satisfaction and less drive for thinness. Surprisingly, the AA did not differ from control women on any self-report measure. However, significantly more AA (11.7\%) than NAA (5.8\%) and controls (4.4\%) had a lifetime diagnosis of eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). The eating attitudes and behavior of the 13 AA with a lifetime history of EDNOS fell intermediately between the anorexic women and the controls, whereas their personality profile resembled that of controls. CONCLUSIONS: Being a nonaesthetic female athlete in Israel appears to promote body esteem and offer some protection from a preoccupation with dieting. AA also appear to enjoy excellent psychological health; however, a subgroup has EDNOS and appears not to receive appropriate treatment for it. These results lend credibility to the existence of the diagnostic entity of anorexia athletica, proposed to be a subclinical, environmentally influenced eating disorder with a favorable prognosis.
This article was published in Med Sci Sports Exerc
and referenced in Journal of Nutritional Disorders & Therapy