Eating behavior and reasons for exercise among competitive collegiate male athletes

Sasha Gorrell, Jason M. Nagata, Katherine Bell Hill, Jennifer L. Carlson, Alana Frost Shain, Jenny Wilson, C. Alix Timko, Kristina K. Hardy, James Lock, Rebecka Peebles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Research concerning eating disorders among adolescent and young adult male athletes is limited compared with female counterparts, but increasing evidence indicates that they may be at unique risk for unhealthy exercise and eating behavior. The current study aimed to characterize unhealthy exercise and eating behavior according to competitive athlete status, as well as per sport type. Method: Collegiate male athletes (N = 611), each affiliated with one of the 10 National College Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I schools in the United States, completed an online survey, reporting on eating and extreme weight control behaviors, and reasons for exercise. Results: Competitive athletes endorsed increased driven exercise and exercising when sick. Baseball players, cyclists, and wrestlers emerged as the sports with the most players reporting elevated Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire scores in a clinical range, and basketball players reported the highest rates of binge eating. overall, baseball players, cyclists, rowers, and wrestlers appeared to demonstrate the greatest vulnerability for unhealthy eating and exercise behavior. Conclusion: Findings revealed differences between competitive and non-competitive male athletes. Among competitive athletes, results identified unique risk for unhealthy eating and exercise behavior across a variety of sport categories and support continued examination of these attitudes and behaviors in a nuanced manner. Level II: Evidence obtained from well-designed controlled trials without randomization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Adolescent male
  • Competitive male athletes
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Eating disorders
  • Male athletes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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