Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2001 Volume 12, Number 6
©2001 Gürze Books
In some settings, extremely high levels of physical activity have been part of the equation of eating disorders. In a recent Swedish study, eating disorder symptoms in young women were associated more with attitudes about exercise than with the amount of exercise.
K. Seigel and J. Hetta, of the University Hospital of Uppsala, Sweden, randomly sampled 726 women aged 17-23 with a self-administered questionnaire (Eat Weight Disord 2001;6:32). The women were divided into two groups: (1) high-level exercise, or those who exercised at least 6 times a week for at least an hour, and (2) those with obligatory attitudes to exercise, those who scored above the 95th percentile on a composite score of obligatory exercise items. Both groups were then compared to a control group.
Those in the obligatory exercise group scored high on body image concerns, recurrent weight-reducing attempts, binge eating and postprandial impulses to vomit. Those in the high exercise group did not have any of these characteristics. Women in the obligatory exercise group also had symptoms related to stress and particularly a high level of general activity coupled with perfectionistic ambitions, which was not noted in the high-exercise group or in controls.