Sports have received widespread attention for the risk of disordered eating, but prevalence rates among athletes have varied from one to 62 percent across studies (Beals, 2004). One explanation for this discrepancy has been the tendency for previous studies to select “at-risk” sports for examination. The current study extends prior inquiry by expanding the sample to the entire student-athlete group at Ohio State University. Approximately 800 varsity student-athletes at this large Division I university completed the Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnosis (Q-EDD; Mintz, O’Halloran, Mulholland, & Schneider, 1997) in 2001 and 2002, allowing gender and type of sport comparisons. The purposes of the study were to identify at-risk athletes as part of a screening process designed for eating disorder prevention, and to continue to refine the assessment of disordered eating in athletes. Not surprisingly, results showed that subclinical eating problems were more prevalent than clinical eating disorders in athletes, with 19 percent of female athletes and 12 percent of male athletes reporting eating disorder symptoms in year one, and 17 percent of female athletes and nine percent of male athletes in year two. Because the Q-EDD does not fully capture male body image problems, in 2002 questions were added to the Q-EDD that assessed preoccupation with muscularity, and preliminary Endings showed that one percent of male athletes fit a diagnosis of Muscle Dysmorphia. For both years, athletes from lean sports reported significantly more eating disorder symptoms than did athletes from nonlean sports. Specific policies employed by this university and prevention strategies will be discussed.
Jennifer E. Carter and Nancy A. Rudd
Jennifer E. Carter and Anita E. Kelly
This study explored the moderating effect of psychological reactance on the success of traditional and paradoxical mental imagery treatments that were aimed at reducing anxiety in athletes. Intramural college basketball players (N = 73) were recruited through advertisements for a free-throw contest, and their anxiety and free-throw performance were measured following treatment in one of three groups: confidence imagery, paradoxical imagery, or control. As predicted, in the paradoxical condition, high-reactant athletes reported having significantly lower somatic state anxiety and significantly higher state self-confidence than did low-reactant athletes. In contrast, high- and low-reactant athletes did not differ in their anxiety scores in both the confidence imagery and control conditions. Results suggested that reactance does moderate the effect of the success of traditional and paradoxical imagery treatments for reducing athletes’ anxiety.
Christy Greenleaf, Trent Petrie, Justine Reel, and Jennifer Carter
Petrie and Greenleaf (2007) presented a psychosocial model of disordered eating for female athletes. Based upon the 2007 model, the present study examined four key psychosocial variables: internalization, body dissatisfaction, restrained eating, and negative affect, as predictors of bulimic symptoms among NCAA Division I female athletes. Two hundred four women (N = 204) participated and were drawn from three different universities and competed in 17 different varsity sports. After controlling for the effects of body mass and social desirability, hierarchical regression analysis showed that the psychosocial variables explained 42% of the variance in bulimic symptoms. In the full model, higher levels of body dissatisfaction, more dietary restraint, and stronger feelings of guilt were associated with bulimic symptomatology. Internalization of the sociocultural ideal as well as feelings of fear, hostility, or sadness were unrelated.
Trent A. Petrie, Christy Greenleaf, Jennifer E. Carter, and Justine J. Reel
Few studies have been conducted examining male athletes and eating disorders, even though the sport environment may increase their risk. Thus, little information exists regarding the relationship of putative risk factors to eating disorders in this group. To address this issue, we examined the relationship of eating disorder classification to the risk factors of body image concerns (including drive for muscularity), negative affect, weight pressures, and disordered eating behaviors. Male college athletes (N= 199) from three different NCAA Division I universities participated. Only two athletes were classified with an eating disorder, though 33 (16.6%) and 164 (82.4%), respectively, were categorized as symptomatic and asymptomatic. Multivariate analyses revealed that eating disorder classification was unrelated to the majority of the risk factors, although the eating disorder group (i.e., clinical and symptomatic) did report greater fear of becoming fat, more weight pressures from TV and from magazines, and higher levels of stress than the asymptomatic athletes. In addition, the eating disorder group had higher scores on the Bulimia Test-Revised (Thelen, Mintz, & Vander Wal, 1996), which validated the Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnosis (Mintz, O’Halloran, Mulholland, & Schneider, 1997) as a measure of eating disorders with male athletes. These findings suggest that variables that have been supported as risk factors among women in general, and female athletes in particular, may not apply as strongly, or at all, to male athletes.
Megan Brannan, Trent A. Petrie, Christy Greenleaf, Justine Reel, and Jennifer Carter
In this study, we extended past research (Brannan & Petrie, 2008; Tylka, 2004) by examining perfectionism, optimism, self-esteem, and reasons for exercising as moderators of the body dissatisfaction-bulimic symptoms relationship among female collegiate athletes (N= 204). Hierarchical moderated regression was used to control for social desirability and physical size and then tested the main and interactive effects of the models. Body dissatisfaction was related to the measure of bulimic symptoms, accounting for 24% of the variance. Four variables were statistically significant as moderators. More concern over mistakes and being motivated to exercise to improve appearance and attractiveness or to socialize and improve mood increased the strength of the relationship between body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms. Self-esteem had a buffering effect that resulted in a weakened relationship.
Justine J. Reel, Sonya SooHoo, Holly Doetsch, Jennifer E. Carter, and Trent A. Petrie
The purpose of the study was to determine prevalence rates of the female athlete triad (Triad), differences by sport category (aesthetic, endurance, and team/anaerobic), and the relationship between each of the components of the Triad. Female athletes (N= 451) from three Division I universities with an average age of 20 years completed the Menstrual History Questionnaire, Injury Assessment Questionnaire, and the Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnoses (Q-EDD; Mintz, O’Halloran, Mulholland, & Schneider, 1997). Almost 7% of female athletes reported clinical eating disorders, and 19.2% reported subclinical disordered eating. Disordered eating was prevalent in all three sport categories with no significant differences between groups. Muscle injuries were more prevalent in team/anaerobic sports (77.4%) than the aesthetic (68.1%) and endurance groups (58.1%). Furthermore, those athletes with menstrual dysfunction more frequently reported clinical eating disorders (1.4%) and sustained more skeletal injuries (51%) during their athletic career than athletes with regular menstrual function. Clinical implications and further research directions are addressed.
Justine J. Reel, Sonya SooHoo, Trent A. Petrie, Christy Greenleaf, and Jennifer E. Carter
Previous research with female athletes has yielded equivocal findings when comparing disordered eating rates to nonathlete populations, but the rates differ for athletes in leanness and nonleanness sports (Sherman & Thompson, 2009). The purpose of the current study was to develop a measure to assess sport-specific weight pressures for female athletes. Secondly, this study identified frequencies of weight, size, and appearance pressures across sports. Participants (N =204) were female Division I athletes from three universities who represented 17 sports. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a 4-factor solution for the 16-item Weight Pressures in Sport for Females (WPS-F) scale with strong internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha of 0.90). The most frequently reported pressures among female college athletes were teammates (36.8%), uniform (34.3%), and coach (33.8%). These findings are discussed in comparison with previous research along with clinical and research implications for using the WPS-F in sport psychology settings.