Pursuit of performance excellence: a population study of Norwegian adolescent female cross-country skiers and biathletes with disordered eating
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine. 2017, 2. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000115 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000115
Aim: To examine the prevalence of disordered eating (DE) among the total population of Norwegian female cross-country skiers and biathletes at the junior level, and to determine whether sociodemographic characteristics predict DE among athletes. Methods: A cross-sectional population study of Norwegian female junior cross-country skiers and biathletes (n=262), with a response rate of 86%. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses explored the prevalence of DE and its relation to sports, competitive age groups, competitive status and education. DE was defined as meeting at least 1 of the following criteria from 2 subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2: the Drive for Thinness score ≥15 and/or the Body Dissatisfaction score ≥14. Results: 18.7% of the athletes had DE. There was no significant difference in the occurrence of DE between the sports or the competitive age groups. Athletes who had dropped out of sports had a significantly higher occurrence of DE, while athletes who attended upper secondary schools of elite sports or general studies had a significantly higher occurrence of DE based on Drive for Thinness. Conclusions: The number of female cross-country skiers and biathletes with DE is higher than that found in previous similar studies using the same screening instruments. Type of education and competitive status are significant predictors of DE, indicating that DE in addition to having adverse effects on an athlete's health, may also lead to early dropout of sport. This indicates that health and achievement are not always compatible within sports.