Athletic identity and disordered eating in obligatory and non-obligatory runners

Jennifer I. Gapin, Steven J. Petruzzello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Athletic identity is the extent to which an individual identifies with being an athlete. Strong "running" role identity may contribute to increased restrictive dieting behaviours, potentially placing such individuals at risk for eating disorders. In this study, we examined differences in eating and exercise behaviours/attitudes and athletic identity in obligatory versus nonobligatory runners. Male and female participants completed a battery of questionnaires including the Eating Disorder Inventory, Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire (OEQ), and Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS). OEQ scores ≥50 were indicative of obligatory exercise. The non-obligatory runners (n = 82) and obligatory runners (n = 91) were compared on the various measures. Obligatory runners scored significantly higher (P < 0.002) on all of the eating attitudes/disorder measures, and the AIMS (P ≤ 0.006). Scores on the AIMS were correlated with all disordered eating measures (P < 0.05). Exercising to maintain identification with the running role may be associated with pathological eating and training practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1010
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Eating disorder
  • Exercise
  • Identity
  • Running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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