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Scientists find link between eating disorders and exercise addiction

Eating disorder is a condition marked by irregular eating patterns. Some of the most talked-about eating disorders are binge eating, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Off late there has been much discourse around eating disorders and its debilitating effects. There are many studies recently that have delved deeper into the symptoms associated and common characteristics of eating disorders. The study was published in Eating and Weight Disorders.
|| Shivani Shukla

According to a latest study, exercise addiction is nearly four times more common among people with an eating disorder.

People having an obsessive approach to fitness, and feel an aggressive need to work out could be putting their health and social life at stake.

“It is known that those with eating disorders are more likely to display addictive personality and obsessive-compulsive behaviours,” said study lead author Mike Trott of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK.

“We are also aware that having an unhealthy relationship with food often means an increased amount of exercising, but this is the first time that a risk factor has been calculated,” Trott added.

For the study, researchers pulled data from nine studies covering a total of 2,140 people with a mean age of 25.

People displaying characteristics of an eating disorder were found to be 3.7 times more likely to suffer from exercise addiction as opposed to people who showed no indication of an eating disorder.

“It is not uncommon to want to improve our lifestyles by eating healthier and doing more exercise, particularly at the start of the year. However, it is important to moderate this behaviour and not fall victim to ‘crash diets’ or anything that eliminates certain foods entirely, as these can easily lead to eating disorders,” Trott said.

Signs of eating disorder may increase chances of unhealthy relationship with exercise, which may further have negative consequences, including mental health issues and injury.

“Health professionals working with people with eating disorders should consider monitoring exercise levels as a priority, as this group have been shown to suffer from serious medical conditions as a result of excessive exercise, such as fractures, increased rates of cardiovascular disease in younger patients, and increased overall mortality,” Trott concluded.

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