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Clin Sports Med. 2016 Apr;35(2):275-92. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2015.10.002.

Understanding Eating Disorders in Elite Gymnastics: Ethical and Conceptual Challenges.

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Institute of Life Sciences 2, College of Medicine, Swansea University, Room 306, Floor 3, Singleton Campus, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK. Electronic address:
Psychology Applied to Health, College House, University of Exeter Medical School, St. Luke's Campus, Magdalen Road, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK.
Interprofessional Studies, College of Human and Health Sciences, Floor 7, Vivian Tower, Swansea University Singleton Campus, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.
College of Engineering, Swansea University Bay Campus, Fabian Way, Swansea SA1 8EN, UK.


Eating disorders and disordered eating are more common in high performance sports than the general population, and particularly so in high performance aesthetic sports. This paper presents some of the conceptual difficulties in understanding and diagnosing eating disorders in high performance gymnasts. It presents qualitative and quantitative data from a study designed to ascertain the pattern of eating disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms and levels of self-esteem among national and international level gymnasts from the UK in the gymnastic disciplines of sport acrobatics, tumbling, and rhythmic gymnastics.


Depressive symptoms; Eating disorders; Elite performance; Female athlete triad syndrome; Gymnastics; Self-esteem

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