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Authors: Manuel Alcaraz-Ibáñez, Adrian Paterna, Álvaro Sicilia and Mark D. Griffiths

Abstract

Background and aims

This study examined the relationship between self-reported symptoms of morbid exercise behaviour (MEB) and eating disorders (ED) using meta-analytic techniques.

Methods

We systematically searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science, SciELO and Scopus. Random effects models were used to compute pooled effect sizes estimates (r). The robustness of the summarized estimates was examined through sensitivity analyses by removing studies one at a time.

Results

Sixty-six studies comprising 135 effect-sizes (N = 21,816) were included. The results revealed: (a) small-sized relationship in the case of bulimic symptoms (r = 0.19), (b) small- (r = 0.28) to medium-sized relationships (r = 0.41) in the case of body/eating concerns, and (c) medium-sized relationships in the case of overall ED symptoms (r = 0.35) and dietary restraint (r = 0.42). Larger effect sizes were observed in the case of overall ED symptoms in clinical, younger, and thinner populations, as well as when employing a continuously-scored instrument for assessing ED or the Compulsive Exercise Test for assessing MEB. Larger effect sizes were also found in female samples when the ED outcome was dietary restraint.

Conclusions

The identified gaps in the literature suggest that future research on the topic may benefit from: (a) considering a range of clinical (in terms of diagnosed ED) and non-clinical populations from diverse exercise modalities, (b) addressing a wide range of ED symptomatology, and (c) employing longitudinal designs that clarify the temporal direction of the relationship under consideration.

Open access

Background and aims

Theoretical models of morbid exercise behavior (MEB) suggest that it may emerge as a result of complex interactions between a range of psychosocial factors. However, in spite of fitness-related self-conscious emotions involving such factors, their relationship with the risk of MEB has never been investigated. Consequently, this study had two objectives. First, to explore the relationship that fitness-related self-conscious emotions have with (a) symptoms reflecting MEB as assessed by the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) and the Exercise Dependence Scale-Revised (EDS-R) and (b) exercise frequency. Second, to examine whether these relationships might vary according to disordered eating symptoms.

Methods

A sample of 646 undergraduate students (59% males; M age = 21.25; SD age = 2.94) completed a self-reported questionnaire.

Results

After controlling for age, sex, and disordered eating symptoms, it was found that shame, hubristic pride, and authentic pride positively explained MEB; for their part, guilt (negatively) and authentic pride (positively) explained exercise frequency. The positive relationships between pride and MEB were weaker (in the case of the hubristic facet) or stronger (in the case of the authentic facet) under higher levels of disordered eating symptoms. The independent variables explained 29% (EAI), 28% (EDS-R), and 27% (exercise frequency) of the variance in dependent variables.

Discussion

Tempering fitness-related emotions of shame, guilt, hubristic pride, and authentic pride may contribute to healthier exercise behavior.

Open access