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TitleExercising for weight and shape reasons vs. health control reasons : the impact on eating disorders behaviors
Author(s)Gonçalves, Sónia
Gomes, António Rui
Simães, C.
Health reasons
Weight and shape reasons
Eating disturbance
Issue date2012
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Abstract(s)The psychological and physiological benefits of exercise are well-known, and exercise participation is a positive experience for most people. However, this participation is also associated with body dissatisfaction (Silberstein, Striegel-Moore, Timko, & Rodin, 1988) as well as the development and maintenance of eating problems and eating disorders (Garner, Rosen, & Barry, 1998). One explanation for these negative effects is related to the motives people have for exercising, which can indicate whether individual participation in exercise is more or less autonomous and self-directed (Markland & Ingledew, 2007). Thus, the first aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of exercise motivated by weight and shape control reasons compared to health reasons in exercisers at fitness centers. The second aim was to evaluate differences between these two groups in terms of eating patterns. In total, 301 participants (53.5% males) between 14 and 79 years of age (M=25.8; SD=8.89) were recruited for this study. The evaluation protocol included the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q; Fairburn & Beglin, 1994; Portuguese adaptation by Machado, 2007) and a Demographic and sport information that was developed specifically for this study and allowed us to evaluate the motivation for exercise. The results showed that almost 48% of the participants reported that their exercise is motivated by weight/shape reasons. The logistic regression analysis revealed that participants in the weight and shape reasons group were significantly more likely to have a binge-eating episode and to report excessive exercising. The multivariate analysis of variance showed that the weight and shape reasons group had higher scores on all the dimensions of EDE-Q. Likewise, this group scored higher on the EDE-Q global score. In conclusion, weight and shape control reasons for exercise participation were very common. In addition, this group had significantly higher scores on all subscales of the EDE-Q which mean a higher tendency to eating disorder behaviors. So, it is important that researchers and clinicians be aware that exercise related to weight and shape reasons is not always a health-promoting behavior.
Publisher version
AccessRestricted access (UMinho)
Appears in Collections:ESE-CIE - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais / Papers in International Journals

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