This cross-sectional study aimed to examine the associations between body appreciation, body functionality and disordered eating in a large adolescent sample of different levels and types of sports practice. Method: The sample consisted of 1412 adolescents (59.8% were girls). The ages ranged from 15 to 18 years old, with a mean age of 16.9 (SD = 0.5) for girls and 17.0 (SD = 0.4) for boys. Participants completed an anonymous questionnaire assessing the nature of sports participation, body appreciation, body functionality, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, internalisation of sociocultural beauty ideals and disordered eating. A two-way ANOVA was employed to test the differences in body image concerns, body appreciation, perceived physical fitness and disordered eating behaviours in gender groups and groups of different sport types and levels. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to predict disordered eating behaviours of different study variables. Results: Participants of leisure and competitive sports reported greater body appreciation, self-esteem and lower body dissatisfaction compared to non-participants. No differences in body appreciation and disordered eating were observed in adolescents involved in weight-sensitive and less weight-sensitive sports. Body appreciation and body functionality were associated with lower disordered eating in adolescent girls not participating in sports, leisure exercisers and participants of competitive sport as well as in boys participating in competitive sports, controlling for body mass index. Adolescent boys demonstrated greater body appreciation compared to girls. Conclusions: The results of this study support the knowledge of the protective role of positive body image preventing dysfunctional eating in adolescent girls of various sports practice and in competitive sports involved boys. Disordered eating prevention and clinical treatment programs for adolescents of different physical activity might benefit from including education about body appreciation and functionality.
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