Prevalence of Subclinical Eating Disorders in Collegiate Female Athletes

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
Patti L. Williams Ph.D., CHES, CSCS 1 , Roger G. Sargent Ph.D., Robert F. Valois Ph.D., M.P.H., FASHA, FAAHB, J. Wanzer Drane Ph.D., FASS, FAAHB, Deborah M. Parra-Medina M.P.H., Ph.D. and Larry J. Durstine Ph.D. 2
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  • 1 Longwood University Farmville, Virginia 23909
  • 2 University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina 29208
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This study is an examination of eating behaviors and body image concerns among 587 female collegiate athletes from nine colleges/universities representing 14 different sports. Measures included the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI-2), the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26), and a questionnaire gathering general demographic information, reasons for dieting and/or using other methods of weight control, as well as information about expressed concerns from others regarding the respondents weight. Three sport groups were hypothesized to be at increased risk: athletes whose performance is subjectively scored; athletes who compete in a sport where a low body weight is considered advantageous; and athletes who must wear body conrevealing clothing. Chi-Square and Logistic Regression analyses revealed no association between these sport groups and the presence of a subclinical eating disorder (SED). Additional analyses determined no statistical association between student-athletes competing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level (versus Division II or III level) or student-athletes who were scholarship recipients (versus non-scholarship recipients) and the presence of SED. Student-athletes who have heard expressed concerns from others regarding their body weight were significantly more likely to report the presence of SED (p < .0001). Therefore, special care should be taken with all student-athletes when discussing body weight.