What Are the Risk and Protective Factors for Athletes, in Terms of Different Types of Sports and Intensity?

What Are the Risk and Protective Factors for Athletes, in Terms of Different Types of Sports and Intensity?

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There are many scientific papers about eating disorders, possible treatments and possible risk factors. Due to the fact that, for many people with eating disorders, body image, dieting and over exercising is part of their everyday lives, the focus in this study is on sportswomen- and men.(1)⁠ In addition, the worldwide prevalence of eating disorders among athletes, 0-19% for men, and 6-45% for women, is higher than the prevalence within the general population.(1)⁠ The focus of this study however, lies on the Dutch population. According to the Trimbos Institute, the presence of an eating disorder at some point in time for Dutch civilians is 0.7%.(2)⁠ However, no specific prevalence numbers are available for the Dutch athlete population.

The development and existence of some kind of eating disorder is harmful for body functions and mental health; a lack of energy availability, menstrual dysfunction, persisting psychological distress and even death.(3)⁠⁠There is a lot of discrepancy within literature whether an active sports-life can protect people from developing an eating disorder, or that the practice of (different types of) sports increase the risk of having this serious condition. (4)⁠ Besides, eating disorders among athletes can be more veiled because they do not necessarily fit the standards for people with an eating disorder.(5)

Different types of eating disorders can be distinguished according to the DSM V(6) which are stated here below:⁠

Anorexia Nervosa:
“Anorexia nervosa, which primarily affects adolescent girls and young women, is characterized by distorted body image and excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of becoming fat. The criteria have several minor but important c...


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...iatric Association. 2013 [cited 2014 Mar 28]. Available from: http://www.dsm5.org/documents/eating disorders fact sheet.pdf
7. Garner DM. Eating Disorder Inventory-2: Professional Manual. Van Strien T, editor. Lisse: Swets Test Publishers; 2002.
8. Beals KA, Manore MM. Behavioral, psychological, and physical characteristics of female athletes with subclinical eating disorders. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000;10(2):128–43.
9. DSM V of 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) [Internet]. [cited 2014 Mar 27]. Available from: http://www.humanconcern.nl/home/eetstoornis/dsm-v/
10. Twisk PJWR. Inleiding in de toegepaste biostatistiek. 1st ed. Maarssen: Elsevier gezondheidszorg; 2007.
11. Sundgot-Borgen J, Torstveit MK. Prevalence of eating disorders in elite athletes is higher than in the general population. Clin J Sport Med. 2004;14(1):25–32.

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