The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between exercise addiction, abnormal eating attitudes, anxiety, and depression among competitive and amateur athletes.
Participants were 100 athletes of mean age 28.3 years (18–62), of which there were 67 males and 35 females. The sample consisted of competitive and amateur athletes who participated in individual and group sports. They filled in the Exercise Addiction Inventory, Body Shape Questionnaire, a questionnaire assessing Eating Attitudes Test, Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
Ratings of exercise addiction were positively correlated with BDI scores across the study sample. Exercise addiction ratings were associated with abnormal eating attitudes, but not with trait or state anxiety. Athletes engaging in individual sports scored marginally higher on depression scores than group athletes but there was no difference in depression scores between competitive and amateur athletes. Multiple regression analysis revealed that abnormal eating attitudes contributed significantly to ratings of exercise addiction and explained 7.7% of the variance. According to the Sobel test, the difference in the association between exercise addiction and eating disorder was significant. Therefore, body shape was a mediating factor between eating disorder and exercise addiction.
This study extends our preliminary findings of an association between exercise addiction and depression. Second, abnormal eating attitudes may explain most of the variance of exercise addiction. This is a further support for previous evidence of comorbidity between exercise addiction and eating disorders.