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This research examined the nutritional practices and body images of 13 competitive women bodybuilders living in southern California and in the Midwest. Data collection included both structured interviews and survey methods. Findings indicate nutritional health and positive body image among this sample of women. None of the bodybuilders had anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987) criteria, were binge eaters or used pathogenic weight control measures. Instead, they reported significant improvement in their nutritional attitudes and behaviors after beginning bodybuilding training. These data suggest a relationship between participating in competitive bodybuilding and other behaviors related to nutrition and self-perception.
Sharon R. Guthrie, Cathy Ferguson, and Dixie Grimmett are with the Physical Education Department at California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA 90840.