Athletes with Eating Disorders: Analysis of Their Clinical Characteristics, Psychopathology and Response to Treatment

Ana Ibáñez-Caparrós, Isabel Sánchez, Roser Granero, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Magda Rosinska, Ansgar Thiel, Stephan Zipfel, Joan de Pablo, Lucia Camacho-Barcia, Fernando Fernandez-Aranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Eating disorders (ED) have frequently been described among athletes. However, their specific features and therapy responses are lacking in the literature. The aims of this article were to compare clinical, psychopathological and personality traits between ED patients who were professional athletes (ED-A) with those who were not (ED-NA) and to explore differences in response to treatment. The sample comprised n = 104 patients with ED (n = 52 ED-A and n = 52 matched ED-NA) diagnosed according to DSM-5 criteria. Evaluation consisted of a semi-structured face-to-face clinical interview conducted by expert clinicians and a psychometric battery. Treatment outcome was evaluated when the treatment program ended. ED-A patients showed less body dissatisfaction and psychological distress. No differences were found in treatment outcome among the groups. Within the ED-A group, those participants who performed individual sport activities and aesthetic sports presented higher eating psychopathology, more general psychopathology, differential personality traits and poor therapy outcome. Individual and aesthetic sports presented more severity and worse prognosis. Although usual treatment for ED might be similarly effective in ED-A and ED-NA, it might be important to develop preventive and early detection programs involving sports physicians and psychologists, coaches and family throughout the entire athletic career and afterwards.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3003
Pages (from-to)3003
Number of pages16
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023


  • eating disorders
  • physical activity
  • professional athletes
  • treatment outcome


Dive into the research topics of 'Athletes with Eating Disorders: Analysis of Their Clinical Characteristics, Psychopathology and Response to Treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this