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Prevalence of Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Male Collegiate Athletes


Data Analysis
The athletes initially were classified into their
eating groups on the basis of their QEDD re-
sponses. Once classified, the athletes were com-
pared on several demographic variables, specif-
ically age, race/ethnicity, year in school, and
sport team, and on their levels of bulimic symp-
tomatology based on their BULIT-R scores.
For the continuous variables (i.e., BULIT-R
and age), we made comparisons using an anal-
ysis of variance. For the categorical variables,
we used chi-square tests. Where appropriate,
effect sizes (i.e., partial 4q2 and Cohen's d) are
reported. The power for the statistical tests ex-
ceeded .90. For the responses to the seven items
from the BULIT-R, we calculated simple fre-
quency counts.
Based on their QEDD responses (Mintz et al.,
1997), the athletes were classified as symptom-
atic (n = 39; 19.2%) and asymptomatic (n
164; 80.8%); no athletes were classified as hav-
ing a clinical eating disorder. To further estab-
lish the validity of the QEDD categories for
male athletes, we compared the groups on their
BULIT-R scores and were found to differ sig-
nificantly, F(1, 201) = 21.01,p < .0001, partial
12 = .10. As expected, the symptomatic ath-
letes (M = 57.25, SD = 16.21; Cohen's d
.78) reported higher scores in comparison with
those who were asymptomatic (M = 45.05,
SD = 14.64). Disordered eating group status
(symptomatic vs. asymptomatic) was then
tested with the demographic variables and
found to be unrelated to race/ethnicity (minority
vs. nonminority), X2(1, N = 203) = 1.45, p -
.23, year in school, X2(4, N = 203) = 6.72, p
.15, and age, F(1, 201) = 0.26, p = .61, partial
2 - .001 (see Table 1).
To examine the relation between sport team
participation and disordered eating status, we
classified the teams into one of six groups
(Hausenblas & Carron, 2002): endurance
(cross-country, track, swimming; n = 39;
asymptomatic = 34 and symptomatic = 5);
aesthetic (cheerleading, diving; n = 7; asymp-
tomatic = 5 and symptomatic = 2); weight
dependent (wrestling; n = 2; asymptomatic = 1
and symptomatic = 1); ball game (basketball,
baseball, soccer, volleyball, hockey, lacrosse;

n = 45; asymptomatic = 36 and symptom-
atic = 9); power sports (football, downhill ski-
ing; n = 104; asymptomatic = 83 and symp-
tomatic = 21); and technical (fencing, golf; n
6; asymptomatic = 5 and symptomatic = 1).
Because of the small numbers associated with
the aesthetic, weight-dependent, and technical
groups, it was inappropriate to include them in
the analysis. Using the remaining three groups,
which had sufficient numbers, there was no
significant relation between sport team classifi-
cation and disordered eating status, X2(2, N
188)= 1.30, p =.52.
Based on the athletes' responses to the seven
specific BULIT-R items, 34 (16.7%) reported
binge eating (i.e., eat uncontrollably to the point
of stuffing yourself) at least once a week; 35
(17.2%) indicated that their binge eating had
lasted for 3 months or longer. With respect to
the specific pathogenic weight control behav-
iors, (a) 75 (37.0%) reported exercising at
least 2 hr per day to burn calories, (b) 29
(14.2%) indicated fasting or going on strict
diets at least 2 or more times in the past year,
(c) 13 (6.5%) vomited intentionally at least
2-3 times/month, and (d) 9 (4.5%) and 16
(7.9%), respectively, reported using diuretics
and laxatives at least once a week to control
weight (see Table 2).
In summary, none of the athletes were clas-
sified with a clinical eating disorder on the basis
of their QEDD responses, although almost 20%
reported a sufficient number and level of symp-
toms to be considered symptomatic. Just over
80% of the athletes had no significant eating
disorder concerns and were classified as aymp-
tomatic. With respect to demographic variables,
neither year in school, race/ethnicity, sport type,
nor age was related to whether or not the ath-
letes were symptomatic or asymptomatic. In
terms of the athletes' body mass, fewer than 2%
were classified as underweight and 66% as
overweight or obese according to CDC guide-
lines. Despite the high number of athletes who
were overweight or obese, just over 60% ex-
pressed being satisfied with their current body
weight. Although the total frequency of patho-
genic behaviors was low, the athletes indicated
that exercise and fasting or dieting were the
primary and secondary means for controlling
their weight; fewer than 10% reported using
vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics.


Petrie, Trent A.; Greenleaf, Christy; Reel, Justine J. & Carter, Jennifer. Prevalence of Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Male Collegiate Athletes. [Washington, D.C.]. UNT Digital Library. Accessed September 30, 2014.