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Purpose. The involvement of adolescents presenting high levels of social physique anxiety (SPA) in sport practice has been hypothesized as potentially problematic in terms of being associated with disturbed eating attitudes and behaviors (DEAB). Indeed, sport practice itself has been reported to be associated with higher levels of SPA and DEAB, and sport settings may sometimes involve the promotion unhealthy life habits. Nevertheless, current studies are few and present several limitations. The objective of the present study is to examine these relations among adolescents involved or not in various types (leanness and individual) and contexts (organized and competitive) of sport practice.

Method. The sample included 766 adolescents (337 boys and 429 girls), aged between 11 and 18 years, involved (n= 335) or not (n= 431) in sport practice. SPA and DEAB were assessed using French adaptations of the SPA Scale and the Eating Attitudes Test-26.

Results. The results reveal a significant and positive association between SPA and the DEAB scales. Furthermore, they show a positive relationship between SPA and (a) vomiting-purging behaviors in adolescents involved in individual sports; and (b) generic DEAB (i.e., a subscales covering fear of getting fat, food preoccupation, and eating-related guilt), particularly in adolescents involved in individual sports.

Conclusions. The relationship between SPA and DEAB do not differ according to adolescents’ involvement in sport practice, or according to their involvement in organized, competitive or leanness sport practice more specifically. However, higher levels of SPA and DEAB were observed for adolescents involved in individual sports.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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