Athletes: Not Different From Others with Eating Disorders?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 2001 Volume 12, Number 4
©2001 Gürze Books

There is little valid support for the theory that athletes with eating disorders are psychologically different from their non-athlete counterparts, nor any justification for the label anorexia athletica or “activity anorexia,” according to Dr. Caroline Davis and colleagues at Toronto General Hospital and York University, Toronto. As reported at the Academy for Eating Disorders meeting in Vancouver last May, Dr. Davis and colleagues studied 144 female eating disorders patients being treated at Toronto General Hospital. Patients were classified as “athletic” or “non-athletic” after a structured clinical interview. The “athletic” classification was only given to elite athletes or to those who had danced professionally. No group differences were found on the Eating Disorders Inventory or the SCL-90 (Symptom Checklist 90). Dr. Davis suggested that there is no support for the concept that athletes with eating disorders are less ill than other eating disorders patients, or that their symptoms are simply due to over-training and the intensive training frequently required of elite athletes.

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