Predictors for Eating Disorders Include Excessive Exercise
The study from the Department of Translational Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands found there is a substantial relationship between individuals who exercise excessively and eating disorders.
Anorexia and bulimia are eating disorders that are predominantly found in women ages 15-25. Bulimia is when a person eats an excessive amount of food and then vomits to prevent weight gain. Anorexia is defined as extreme food moderation and dieting in individuals with distorted body images, believing they are heavier than they really are and are obsessed with losing weight.
There are many factors that can lead a person to develop these disorders, including low self-esteem or distorted body image. Anorexia and bulimia are both considered mental disorders. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest chance of being fatal.
The study participants were asked questions about their eating habits, body image and activity level. They were also questioned about their opinions regarding healthy weight. The study found one prevalent factor in those with eating disorders: the women who showed high eating disorder indicators or reported a history of eating disorders said they exercised excessively.
Just as anorexia is fueled by obsessive behavior regarding how much an individual eats, a person can also take on obsessive habits when it comes to exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two-and-a-half to three hours a week of aerobic activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Women exercising more than this were more likely to develop an eating disorder in their lifetime. Anything over five hours or more a week is categorized as excessive and indicative of a person with obsessive tendencies and wanting to lose an unrealistic amount of weight.
The results of this study may help researchers pinpoint habits that lead to eating disorders. This can aid in prevention and education to help stop individuals from developing unhealthy eating and exercise habits.