OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyze the association between maturation process, body dissatisfaction and inappropriate eating behavior in young athletes according to gender. METHODS: Five-hundred eighty individuals of both genders practicing different sports were surveyed. Sexual maturation, somatic maturation, body dissatisfaction and inappropriate eating behavior were assessed by the Tanner, stock Lohman, Body Shape Questionnaire and Eating Attitudes Test, respectively. Percentage of fat was estimated by skinfold thickness and weight and height were measured for calculating the body mass index. Statistical treatment included univariate analysis of covariance, binary logistic regression and multiple linear regression. RESULTS: The results demonstrated statistically significant differences (p<0.05) in body dissatisfaction among maturation stages. In addition, prepubescent and pubescent boys were more likely to be dissatisfied compared with postpubescent athletes (p<0.05). Furthermore, the logistic regression model showed an association between inappropriate eating behavior maturation stages only in males (p<0.05). In females, the maturation process explained in 9% and 7% of the sample, respectively, the variation in body dissatisfaction (p<0.05) and inappropriate eating behavior (p<0.05). CONCLUSION: Biological maturation was associated with inappropriate eating behavior only in young male athletes.
Feeding behaviors; Human development; Body image