As female athletes participating in physique-salient sports report similar levels of social physique anxiety (SPA) and disordered eating symptoms compared with those in nonphysique salient sports, alternative factors contributing to disordered eating require consideration, specifically participation in sport type (team vs. individual). This study examined SPA and disordered eating correlates in female athletes (N= 137) in two sport types (team sports and individual sports). Individual sport athletes exhibited higher SPA, F(1, 135) = 22.03, p< .001; dieting, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 57.05) = 43.79, p< .001; and bulimic behavior, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 59.92) = 13.45, p= .001 than team sport athletes. SPA and sport type together predicted 44% of dieting and 22% of bulimic symptom variance, suggesting that individual-sport athletes with higher SPA experienced greater disordered eating. Involvement in individual sports where physique is more open to social evaluation may contribute to dieting and bulimic symptoms among female athletes.
The author is with the Department of Exercise, Nutrition, and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, UK.