Female Athletes and Eating Disorders

Abstract

Sports should prevent athletes from having eating disorders not develop eating disorders. There is evidence that female athletes are at a risk of developing disordered eating. The purpose of this study was to find how prevalent eating disorders are in female athletes and examine factors that may have a relationship with eating disorders.

A questionnaire containing two instruments was distributed to volunteer female athletes at a Midwestern university. The EAT 26 was used to measure the prevalence of eating disorders. The ATHLETE questionnaire was used to inquire some factors that may have a relationship with eating disorders among athletes. Results showed 14.3% of the respondents scored a 20 and above on the EAT 26 and thus considered at risk of having an eating disorder. The ATHLETE questionnaire showed that there were some significant negative correlations between the EAT 26 score and participant’s feelings about their body, feelings about sports, feelings about performance, and feelings about eating. The negative correlations meant that the more the participants scored high on their feelings about their body, sports, performance, and eating, the less likely they scored low on the EAT 26, indicating they did not have a risk of an eating disorder.

This study implies that when athletes feel good about their body, sport, performance and their eating, the less likely they will have an eating disorder. This study makes an important contribution in understanding female athletes and eating disorders as well as factors that may have a relationship to eating disorders in female athletes.

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