A Systematic Review on Exercise Addiction and the Disordered Eating-Eating Disorders Continuum in the Competitive Sport Context
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Exercise addictionExercise dependenceMaladaptative exerciseUnhealthy eatingEating disordersAthletes
Godoy-Izquierdo, D... [et al.]. A Systematic Review on Exercise Addiction and the Disordered Eating-Eating Disorders Continuum in the Competitive Sport Context. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2021). [https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-021-00610-2]
SponsorshipCRUE-CSIC agreement; Springer Nature; Junta de Andalucia European Commission
Exercise addiction (EA) affects a considerable number of individuals who regularly perform exercise-sport activities. The co-occurrence of EA manifestations and the continuum of disordered eating-eating disorders (EDs) is so common in sports that a deeper understanding of them as comorbidities is warranted. The aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date overview and synthesis of the research on the relationship between maladaptive exercise and dysfunctional eating in the sport context. A systematic review was conducted following the PRISMA guidelines. A total of 22 empirical studies (23 articles) with young and adult female and male athletes from several sports and competition levels was included. EA in conjunction with eating disturbances is frequent among athletes, yet the prevalence rates are inconsistent. Existing evidence suggests that EA is a relevant outcome of ED pathology among athletes, supporting the classical secondary type of EA. However, research also reveals that excessive exercising plays a central role in the psychopathology of disordered eating. There is a need for further quantitative research addressing the features and correlates of the EA-EDs dyad, qualitative research on the subjective experiences of athletes with disordered exercise and eating, longitudinal and experimental research to establish possible causal paths and attempts to develop comprehensive conceptual models of EA and its co-occurrence with EDs, in order to improve the identification, prevention, and management of this dyadic condition in the sport context.