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      Exercise addiction in adolescents and emerging adults – Validation of a youth version of the Exercise Addiction Inventory

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          Behavioral addictions often onset in adolescence and increase the risk of psychological and social problems later in life. The core symptoms of addiction are tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, lack of control, and compulsive occupation with the behavior. Psychometrically validated tools are required for detection and early intervention. Adolescent screening instruments exist for several behavioral addictions including gambling and video gaming addiction but not for exercise addiction. Given recent empirical and clinical evidence that a minority of teenagers appear to be experiencing exercise addiction, a psychometrically robust screening instrument is required.


          The aim of this study was to develop and test the psychometric properties of a youth version of the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) – a robust screening instrument that has been used across different countries and cultures – and to assess the prevalence of exercise addiction and associated disturbed eating.


          A cross-sectional survey was administered to three high-risk samples ( n = 471) aged 11–20 years (mean age: 16.3 years): sport school students, fitness center attendees, and patients with eating disorder diagnoses. A youth version of the EAI (EAI-Y) was developed and distributed. Participants were also screened for disordered eating with the SCOFF Questionnaire.


          Overall, the EAI-Y demonstrated good reliability and construct validity. The prevalence rate of exercise addiction was 4.0% in school athletes, 8.7% in fitness attendees, and 21% in patients with eating disorders. Exercise addiction was associated with feelings of guilt when not exercising, ignoring pain and injury, and higher levels of body dissatisfaction.

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          Most cited references 44

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          Toward a consensus definition of pathological video-gaming: a systematic review of psychometric assessment tools.

          Pathological video-gaming, or its proposed DSM-V classification of "Internet Use Disorder", is of increasing interest to scholars and practitioners in allied health disciplines. This systematic review was designed to evaluate the standards in pathological video-gaming instrumentation, according to Cicchetti (1994) and Groth-Marnat's (2009) criteria and guidelines for sound psychometric assessment. A total of 63 quantitative studies, including eighteen instruments and representing 58,415 participants, were evaluated. Results indicated that reviewed instrumentation may be broadly characterized as inconsistent. Strengths of available measures include: (i) short length and ease of scoring, (ii) excellent internal consistency and convergent validity, and (iii) potentially adequate data for development of standardized norms for adolescent populations. However, key limitations included: (a) inconsistent coverage of core addiction indicators, (b) varying cut-off scores to indicate clinical status, (c) a lack of a temporal dimension, (d) untested or inconsistent dimensionality, and (e) inadequate data on predictive validity and inter-rater reliability. An emerging consensus suggests that pathological video-gaming is commonly defined by (1) withdrawal, (2) loss of control, and (3) conflict. It is concluded that a unified approach to assessment of pathological video-gaming is needed. A synthesis of extant research efforts by meta-analysis may be difficult in the context of several divergent approaches to assessment. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                07 February 2018
                March 2018
                : 7
                : 1
                : 117-125
                [ 1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark , Odense C, Denmark
                [ 2 ]International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University , Nottingham, United Kingdom
                [ 3 ] Odense University Hospital, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark , Odense C, Denmark
                [ 4 ]Department of Endocrinology, Center for Eating Disorders, Odense University Hospital , Odense C, Denmark
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Mia Beck Lichtenstein, Associate Professor; Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark, J. B. Winsløws Vej 18, 220 B, Odense C DK-5000, Denmark; Phone: +45 2621 8846; E-mail: m.lichtenstein@
                © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 41, Pages: 9
                Funding sources: The authors have not received any financial support or benefits from commercial sources for this study.
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