• Alicia Salas-Morillas Department of Acrobatic and Circus Dance, Alicia Alonso University Institute, University Rey Juan Carlos (Spain).
  • Águeda Gutiérrez-Sánchez Department of Special Didactics, Faculty of Science Education and Sport. University of Vigo, Spain. Education, Physical Activity and Health Research Group (Gies10-DE3), Galicia Sur Health Research Institute (IIS), University of Vigo (Spain).
  • Leopoldo Ariza-Vargas Department of Artistic and Corporal Education. University of Córdoba
  • Mercedes Vernetta-Santana Department of Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Sport Science, Granada, Spain.



gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, eating disorder, anthropometry


The aim of this study was to assess the body composition and the risk of developing an eating disorder (ED) in two groups of Spanish elite acrobatic gymnasts. A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted, where 130 acrobatic gymnasts aged 9 to 21 and registered with the Spanish federation voluntarily participated; 56 of them were competing at the international level and 74 at the national level. Height and weight measures were used to calculate body mass index (BMI) and skinfolds were measured to determine the percentage of body fat. The Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI-3-RF) was applied to assess the ED variables. The results revealed that the majority of gymnasts presented normal weight (BMI) and a low % body fat, and the international-level gymnasts showed lower values than national-level ones. 52.6% of the gymnasts in this study were at risk of developing an ED. As regards the scales, the scores related to drive for thinness were noteworthy, especially in women competing at the international level, who reported greater concern about weight and body image. The international-level gymnasts met most of the referring criteria; in particular, most senior gymnasts met criterion 3. There was an average percentage of gymnasts at risk of developing an ED. The risk factors were more noticeable among female international-level gymnasts, who presented greater drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction.


Download data is not yet available.


Andersen, A. (2005). Eating disorders in males. En C.G. Fairburn & K. D. Brownell (Eds.). Eating disorders and obesity, (2a. Ed.). A comprehensive handbook. NY: The Guildford Press.

Anderson, C. M., Petrie, T. A., & Neumann, C. S. (2011). Psychosocial correlates of bulimic symptoms among NCAA Division-I Female Collegiate Gymnasts and Swimmers/Divers. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 33(4), 483–505. DOI:

Cole, T., Flegal, K., Nicholls, D., & Jackson, A. (2007). Body mass index cut off sto define thinness in children and adolescents. International Survey, 335, 194–197. DOI:

De Bruin, A. K., Oudejans, R. R., & Bakker, F. C. (2007). Dieting and body image in aesthetic sports: a comparison of dutch female gymnasts and non-aesthetic sport participants. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8(4), 507–520. DOI:

Deutz, R. C., Benardot, D., Martin, D. E., & Cody, M. M. (2000). Relationship between energy deficits and body composition in elite female gymnasts and runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 32(3):659-68. DOI:

Donti, O., Donti, A., Gaspari, V., Pleksida, P., & Psychountaki, M. (2021). Are they too perfect to eat healthy? Association between eating disorder symptoms and perfectionism in adolescent rhythmic gymnasts. Eating Behaviors, 41, 101514. DOI:

Dosil, J., Díaz, I., Viñolas, A. & Díaz, O. (2012). Prevención y detección de los trastornos de alimentación en deportistas de alto rendimiento (CAR, CEARE y CTD). [Prevention and Detection of the Disorders of Food in Athletes of High Performance (CAR, CEARE and CTD). Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte, 12(1), 163-166. DOI:

Fernández Rivas, A. (2021). Anorexia nerviosa del adolescente y COVID-19: la pandemia colateral. [Anorexia nervosa in adolescents and COVID-19: the collateral pandemic]. Revista Española de Endocrinología Pediátrica, 12(2). 10.3266/RevEspEndocrinolPediatr.pre2021.Nov.705

Fortes, L. S., Neves, C. M., Filgueiras, J. F., Almeida, S. S., & Ferreira, M. E. C. (2013a). Body dissatisfaction, psychological commitment to exercise and eating behavior in young athletes from aesthetic sports. Revista Brasileira de Cineantropometría y Desempenho Humano, 15(6), 695–704. DOI:

Fortes, L. S., Almeida, S. S., & Ferreira, M. E. C. (2013b). Influência da ansiedade nos comportamentos de risco para os transtornos alimentares em ginastas. [Influence of anxiety on risk behaviors to eating disorders in gymnasts]. Revista Brasileira de Atividade Física y Saúde, 18(5), 546-553 DOI:

Fortes, L. S., Almeida, S. S., & Ferreira, M. E. C. (2014). A internalização do ideal de magreza afeta os comportamentos alimentares inadequados em atletas do sexo feminino da Ginástica Artística?. [The internalization of the thin ideal affects the inappropriate eating Behaviors in artistic gymnastic female athletes?]. Revista Da Educacao Fisica, 25(2), 181–191. DOI:

Garner, D. M. (2004). Eating Disorder Inventory–3 Professional manual. Odessa, Fl: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Harriger, J. A., Witherington, D. C., & Bryan, A. D. (2014). Eating pathology in female gymnasts: potential risk and protective factors. Body Image, 11(4), 501-508. DOI:

Herpertz-Dahlmann, B. (2009). Adolescent eating disorders: definitions, symptomatology, epidemiology and comorbidity. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 18(1), 31–47. DOI:

Ioannidou, C., & Venetsanou, F. (2019). Social physique anxiety, disturbed eating attitudes and behaviors, and perceived pressure for thin body in competitive Rhythmic and Aerobic Gymnasts. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 11(3), 331-342. DOI:

Jardim, M. L., Valencio, A. C. J., Menegassi, L. N., Da Silva, R. A., & Carteri, R. B. (2022). Risks of eating and image disorders are correlated with energy and macronutrient inadequacies in youth rhythmic gymnastics. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 14(1), 85-96. DOI:

Jonnalaggada, S. S., Benardot, D., & Dill, M. N. (2000). Assessment of Under-Reporting of Energy Intake by Elite Female Gymnasts. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 10(3)315-25. DOI:

Kaur, K., & Koley, S. (2019). Anthropometric determinants of competitive performance in gymnastics: a systematic review. International Journal Health Science and Research, 9(7), 249-256.

Kosmidou, E., Giannitsopoulou, E., & Proios, M. (2018). Are body esteem, eating attitudes, pressure to be thin, body mass index and training age related in rhythmic gymnastics athletes?. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 10(2), 189–201.

Laffitte, A. M., Zap, M., Leandro, P. P., & Colleon, P. G. K. (2013). Relationship between body composition, dietary intake and tendency to eating disorders in Rhythmic Gymnastics athletes from Paraná. RBNE-Revista Brasileira de Nutrição Esportiva, 7(38), 99–107.

Marfell-Jones M., Olds T., Stewart A., & Carter L. (2006). International standards for anthropometric assessment. ISAK: Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Martínez-Rodríguez, A., Leyva-Vela, B., Cuestas-Calero, B. J., & Reche, C. (2018). Deporte escolar y trastornos de la conducta alimentaria [School sports and eating disorders]. Retos, 34, 236–239. DOI:

Martínez-Rodríguez, A., Reche-García, C., Martínez Fernández, M. C., & Martínez Sanz, J. M. (2020). Assessment of dietary-nutritional status, body composition, eating behaviour and image perception in rhythmic gymnastics athletes. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 37(6), 1217–1225. DOI:

Martins, F. R., & Rodríguez Dos Santos, J. (2004). Leisure-time physical activity, diet and body composition. Revista Brasileira de Educaçao Física e Esporte, 18(2), 159–167.

Nordin, SM., Harris, G., & Cumming, J. (2003). Disturbed Eating in Young, Competitive Gymnasts: Differences Between Three Gymnastics Disciplines. European Journal of Sports Science, 3(5), 1-14. DOI:

Peláez-Barrios, E. M., & Vernetta-Santana, M. (2018). Estima corporal y factores antropométricos en adolescentes practicantes de acrobática. [Body esteem and anthropometric factors in acrobatic teenage gymnasts]. TRANCES: Revista de Transmisión Del Conocimiento Educativo y de La Salud, 10(1), 511-526.

Peláez-Barrios, E. M., & Vernetta-Santana, M. (2020). Effects of sports practice on body image in male adolescents. ESHPA - Education, Sport, Health and Physical Activity. ESHPA - Education, Sport, Health and Physical Activity, 4(3), 362–372.

Salas-Morillas, A., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, A., & Vernetta-Santana, M. (2022). Body composition and sports performance in acrobatic gymnasts. International Journal of Morphology, 40(1), 220–227. DOI:

Salas-Morillas, A., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, A., & Vernetta-Santana, M. (2022). Insatisfacción corporal y trastornos de conducta alimentaria en gimnastas: revisión sistemática. [Body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in gymnasts: a systematic review]. Retos, 44, 577-585. DOI:

Salas, A., & Vernetta, M. (2020). Imagen corporal en adolescentes masculinos sedentarios y practicantes de gimnasia acrobática. Body image in sedentary male adolescents who practice acrobatic gymnastics. En Marín, J. A. et al. (Ed). Inclusión, Tecnología y Sociedad. (pp. 548-562). Editorial Dykinson, S.L.

Slaughter, M., Lohman, T., Boileau, R., Horswill, C., Stillman, R., van Loan, M., & Bemben, D. (1988). Skinfold equation for estimation of body fatness in children and youth. Human Biology, 60(5), 709-23.

Taboada-Iglesias, Y., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, A., & Vernetta Santana, M. (2016). Anthropometric profile of elite acrobatic gymnasts and prediction of role performance. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 56(4):433-42.

Taboada-Iglesias, Y., Vernetta Santana, M., & Gutiérrez-Sánchez, A. (2017). Anthropometric profile in different event categories of Acrobatic Gymnastics. Journal of Human Kinetics, 57, 169-179. DOI:

Taboada-Iglesias, Y., Vernetta-Santana, M., Alonso-Fernández, D., & Gutiérrez-Sánchez, Á. (2021). Phantom model and proportionality indices in acrobatic gymnastics age categories: a cross-sectional and descriptive study. Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética, 25(Supl. 1), e1091-e1091. DOI:

Valles Verdugo, G., Hernández Armas, E., Baños, R., Moncada-Jiménez, J., & Rentería, I. (2020). Distorsión de la imagen corporal y trastornos alimentarios en adolescentes gimnastas respecto a un grupo control de adolescentes no gimnastas con un IMC similar. [Body image distortion and eating disorders in adolescent gymnasts compared to a control group of non-gymnasts with similar BMI]. Retos, 37, 297–302. DOI:

Vernetta Santana, M., López Bedoya, J., & Panadero Bautista, F. (2009). Acrosport en la Escuela [Acrosport at school]. (4ª ed.). Barcelona: Inde.

Vernetta, M., & López Bedoya, J. (2005). Perfil motor de la gimnasia acrobática:

características y planteamiento taxonómico [Motor profile of acrobatic gymnastics: Characteristics and taxonomic approach]. Lecturas: EF y Deportes. Revista Digital, 10 (81).

Vernetta, M., Montosa, I., & Peláez, E. (2018). Estima corporal en gimnastas adolescentes de dos disciplinas coreográficas: gimnasia rítmica y gimnasia acrobática [Body esteem in adolescent gymnasts in two choreographic disciplines: rhythmic gymnastics and acrobatic gymnastics]. Psychology, Society, y Education, 10(3), 301-314. DOI:

Vieira, J. L. L., Amorim, H. Z., Vieira, L. F., Amorim, A. C., & Rocha, P. G. M. da. (2009a). Distúrbios de atitudes alimentares e distorção da imagem corporal no contexto competitivo da ginástica rítmica. Eating disorders and body image distortion in the rhythmic gymnastics competitive context. Revista Brasileira de Medicina Do Esporte, 15(6), 410-414. DOI:

Vieira, J. L. L., Vieira, L. F., Amorim, H. Z., Amorim, A. C., & Rocha, P. G. M. da. (2009b). Distúrbios de atitudes alimentares e sua relação com o crescimento físico de atletas paranaenses de Ginástica Rítmica. Eating disorders and the relationship with the physical growth in Paranaenses rhythm gymnastic athletes. Motriz, 15(3), 552-561.







How to Cite

Salas-Morillas, A., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, Águeda, Ariza-Vargas, L., & Vernetta-Santana, M. (2023). EATING DISORDERS IN SPANISH ACROBATIC GYMNASTS BASED ON SEX AND COMPETITIVE LEVEL. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 15(2), 173-190.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 171

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)