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  • Author: Rita DiGioacchino x
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Sharon H. Thompson, Presley Smith and Rita DiGioacchino

A serious commitment to sport and exercise may predispose female athletes to the development of eating disorders. The energy restriction and accompanying menstrual disorders that are often associated with eating disorders may increase female athletes’ injury risks. The purpose of this study was to assess NCAA Division I, II, and III female collegiate cross country athletes’ weekly exercise time, rates of injury, menstrual dysfunction, and subclinical eating disorder risks. A paper-pencil survey was completed by athletes (mean age = 19.64 years) from NCAA Division I (n = 82), Division II (n = 103) and Division III (n = 115) colleges across the United States. Division I athletes spent significantly more weekly exercise time (M = 687.97 minutes) than Division II (M = 512.38 minutes, p = .0007) or Division III (M = 501.32 minutes, p = .0003) athletes. When examining rates of menstrual dysfunction, 23 percent reported amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea. Over 60 percent (64.3%) of the athletes reported a performance-related injury, with the knee being the most commonly injured site. 24 percent (23.7%) of the athletes reported having stress fractures. Scores for subclinical eating disorders for Division I athletes were significantly higher (M = 87.11) than Division III athletes (M = 82.94, p = .0042). Division I female athletes may be at an increased risk of developing subclinical eating disorders compared to those competing in Division II or III. Because early identification of those with subclinical eating disorders prevents the progression to eating disorders, further study is warranted.

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Kelley K. Pettee Gabriel, Rita DiGioacchino DeBate, Robin R. High and Elizabeth F. Racine

Background:

Evidence supporting the effectiveness of a developmental-focused youth sport (DYS) program designed exclusively for elementary school aged girls is mounting. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of on the Girls on the Run program on psychological and physical assets among 3rd- to 5th-grade girls.

Methods:

A longitudinal quasi-experimental study was conducted to evaluate intervention effects among 877 participants categorized into 1 of 3 groups (never, newly, and previously exposed). A 64-item self-report survey measured developmental assets at 3 time-points. Nested random effects ANOVA models were used to compare demographic factors and psychological and physical assets between exposure groups and to compare longitudinal differences in these assets.

Results:

After adjustment for multiple comparisons, previous program participants had significantly higher physical activity commitment (P = .006) and physical activity levels (P = .047) at preintervention than never exposed. From pre- to postintervention body image improved in newly exposed participants (P = .03). Physical activity increased from preintervention to follow-up among never and newly exposed participants (all P < .05).

Conclusions:

Although we were unable to fully confirm the study hypotheses, the results of the current study provide new evidence to support future long-term studies examining the effectiveness of an innovative DYS program for 3rd- to 5th-grade girls.

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Holly Wethington, Claudia Flowers, Michael Turner and Rita DiGioacchino DeBate

Focusing on female triathletes, this study was an exploration of behaviors and attitudes that may lead to disordered eating among female triathletes. One hundred and eighty-eight female triathletes residing in the U.S. completed an Internet-based questionnaire comprised of measures for disordered eating, body size distortion and dissatisfaction, and food consumption. Statistically significant relationships were identified regarding Preoccupation with Weight and Food Consumption (r= 0.52, p=0.005), Oral Control and Food Consumption (r= 0.32, p=0.04), and Food Restriction and Food Consumption (r= −0.30, p=0.04). Body Size Distortion was also significantly correlated to Food Consumption (r= −0.19, p=0.01), especially among the Sprint distance competitors (r= −0.21, p=0.02). Based upon the findings we suggest food restriction, body size distortion, and disordered eating attitudes are apparent among female triathletes, especially those who are club level athletes and short distance competitors.