Eating disorder risks and awareness among female elite cyclists : an anonymous survey

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2022
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Koppenburg, Clara
Saxer, Franziska
Vach, Werner
Goesele, Andreas
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BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation. BioMed Central. 2022, 14, 172. eISSN 2052-1847. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s13102-022-00563-6
Zusammenfassung

Background
Eating disorders (EDs) are an increasingly recognized concern in professional sports. Previous studies suggests that both female gender and endurance sports put athletes at risk. Female elite cyclists are hence of specific interest. The present study aimed at evaluating the distribution of the individual risk of ED in this group. Further the association between individual risk and both the awareness for the topic ED and the deviation from “normal” weight was depicted.

Methods
Female cyclists registered with the Union Cycliste Internationale were contacted via email or facebook and asked to complete a survey comprising age, weight, the Eating-Attitude-Test (EAT-26), and questions regarding ED awareness. The observed distribution of the EAT-26 score was compared to results from previous studies in normal subjects and athletes. The distribution of the ED awareness was described and ED awareness was correlated with the EAT-26 score. Both the deviation from ideal weight and the body mass index (BMI) were correlated with the EAT-26 score.

Results
Of the 409 registered athletes 386 could be contacted, 122 completed the questionnaire. Age ranged from 20-44yrs, BMI from 17.0 to 24.6 kg/m2. In the EAT-26, 39 cyclists (32.0%) scored above 20 points indicating a potential benefit from clinical evaluation, 34 cyclists (27.9%) scored 10–19 points suggesting disordered eating. Sixteen athletes (13.2%) had been treated for an ED. About 70% of athletes had been pressured to lose weight. The mean EAT-26 score was above the average observed in normal female populations. It was also above the average observed in many female athlete populations, but lower than in other leanness focussed sports. More than 80%of athletes perceived elite cyclists at risk for developing ED. Increased ED awareness and deviation from the ideal weight were associated with higher EAT-26 scores, but not the body mass index.

Conclusion
Female cyclists are at risk of developing ED and they are aware of this risk. To improve their health and well-being, increased efforts to support elite cyclists and their teams in preventive activities and early detection are crucial.

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ISO 690KOPPENBURG, Clara, Franziska SAXER, Werner VACH, Dietmar LÜCHTENBERG, Andreas GOESELE, 2022. Eating disorder risks and awareness among female elite cyclists : an anonymous survey. In: BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation. BioMed Central. 2022, 14, 172. eISSN 2052-1847. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s13102-022-00563-6
BibTex
@article{Koppenburg2022-09-23Eatin-58763,
  year={2022},
  doi={10.1186/s13102-022-00563-6},
  title={Eating disorder risks and awareness among female elite cyclists : an anonymous survey},
  volume={14},
  journal={BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation},
  author={Koppenburg, Clara and Saxer, Franziska and Vach, Werner and Lüchtenberg, Dietmar and Goesele, Andreas},
  note={Article Number: 172}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Background&lt;br /&gt;Eating disorders (EDs) are an increasingly recognized concern in professional sports. Previous studies suggests that both female gender and endurance sports put athletes at risk. Female elite cyclists are hence of specific interest. The present study aimed at evaluating the distribution of the individual risk of ED in this group. Further the association between individual risk and both the awareness for the topic ED and the deviation from “normal” weight was depicted.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Methods&lt;br /&gt;Female cyclists registered with the Union Cycliste Internationale were contacted via email or facebook and asked to complete a survey comprising age, weight, the Eating-Attitude-Test (EAT-26), and questions regarding ED awareness. The observed distribution of the EAT-26 score was compared to results from previous studies in normal subjects and athletes. The distribution of the ED awareness was described and ED awareness was correlated with the EAT-26 score. Both the deviation from ideal weight and the body mass index (BMI) were correlated with the EAT-26 score.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Results&lt;br /&gt;Of the 409 registered athletes 386 could be contacted, 122 completed the questionnaire. Age ranged from 20-44yrs, BMI from 17.0 to 24.6 kg/m2. In the EAT-26, 39 cyclists (32.0%) scored above 20 points indicating a potential benefit from clinical evaluation, 34 cyclists (27.9%) scored 10–19 points suggesting disordered eating. Sixteen athletes (13.2%) had been treated for an ED. About 70% of athletes had been pressured to lose weight. The mean EAT-26 score was above the average observed in normal female populations. It was also above the average observed in many female athlete populations, but lower than in other leanness focussed sports. More than 80%of athletes perceived elite cyclists at risk for developing ED. Increased ED awareness and deviation from the ideal weight were associated with higher EAT-26 scores, but not the body mass index.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Conclusion&lt;br /&gt;Female cyclists are at risk of developing ED and they are aware of this risk. To improve their health and well-being, increased efforts to support elite cyclists and their teams in preventive activities and early detection are crucial.</dcterms:abstract>
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