Eating disorder risk, sports anxiety tied

July 28, 2008 at 6:34 PM
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DENVER, July 28 (UPI) -- Female athletes and exercisers tend to exhibit eating disorder symptoms more often than those who don't exercise as regularly, U.S. researchers said.

The study by researchers at the University of Denver is one of the first to document that women participating in athletic competition and have sports anxiety likely will experience eating disorder symptoms, the International Journal of Eating Disorders, which published the research, said Monday in a news release.

The study of 274 female college undergraduates examined whether differences in eating disorder symptoms exist between women depending on the level of their athletic-exercise activities. The participants also completed several questionnaires about attitudes and behaviors related to eating disorders, self esteem and sports anxiety.

Data suggested coaches and athletic departments of competitive athletes should be watching for sports-related anxiety because these athletes may be at higher risk for eating disorder symptoms than women who are less anxious about their performance and those not involved in competitive athletics, the researchers said.

"As women's participation in athletics increases, so too does the need for awareness of the link between eating disorders and sports participation among women.," said Jill Holm-Denoma of the University of Denver, lead author of the study.

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