The Relationship between Athletic Participation and Perceptions of Body Size and Weight Control in Adolescent Girls: The Role of Sport Type

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Texas, Austin
  • 2 Montana State University–Billings
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This study examines the relationship between sport participation and perceptions of body size and weight-loss strategies among adolescent girls. Using a sample of 7,214 girls, ages 12–18 years, from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that girls who participate in stereotypically feminine sports are more likely to report feeling overweight, attempt to lose weight, and use multiple weight-loss strategies compared with nonathletes. We also find that the associations for weight loss, but not overweight perception, are generally weaker for non-White girls. These findings suggest that participation in stereotypically feminine sports, particularly for White girls, might exacerbate body image and dieting problems associated with dominant gender roles, but participation in stereotypically masculine sports does not.

S.R. Crissey is with the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712. J. Crissey Honea is with the Department of Sociology, Political Science, and Native American Studies at Montana State University—Billings, Billings, MT 59101.

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