Some have claimed that the similarities between athletes with eating problems and women with eating disorders (ED) include only symptoms such as dieting and fear of weight gain, and do not extend to the psychopathological characteristics associated with these disorders. However, studies used to support this viewpoint have relied on comparisons between “eating-disturbed” athletes and clinically diagnosed ED patients, a method that confounds diagnostic classification with athlete status. The present study held ED classification constant by comparing ED patients who had been involved in high-level competitive athletics with nonathlete ED. No significant differences were found between the groups on any measures of psychopathology or eating-related symptoms; this suggests that if an athlete develops an eating disorder, her psychological profile is no different from others with this disorder.
The authors are with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health Science, 343 Bethune College, York University 4700 Keele St., Toronto, M3J 1P3 Canada.