A test of an etiological model: The development of disordered eating in Division-I university female gymnasts and swimmers/divers.
Description: Certain sport environments may contribute to the development of disordered eating and those that heavily emphasize weight and/or body shape can be particularly damaging to an athlete's body image, self-concept, and eating behaviors. In particular, female athletes in collegiate sports are at a greater risk for engaging in unhealthy behaviors because they face both societal pressures from Western culture to be thin, in addition to sport pressures that focus on performance and appearance. According to the American Medical Association almost half of American women are trying to lose weight, illustrating that societal pressures alone to be thin and attractive can influence the development of disordered eating. Athletes are exposed to the same sociocultural pressures as their nonathlete counterparts, and would be expected to have similar feelings about their bodies as women in general. Add subsequent pressures like team "weigh-ins," coaches' body comp preferences, judges' critiques, revealing attire, and endurance/strength demands, and the stage is set for the development of disordered eating. In the current study, participants were 414 Division-I female gymnasts, swimmers/divers, and they completed self-report measures assessing sport pressures, body satisfaction and disordered eating behavior to test Petrie & Greenleaf's etiological model. Results indicate that sport pressures do lead directly to dietary restraint, a precursor to disordered eating, and are not always mediated through internalization and body dissatisfaction. These findings suggest that decreasing and intervening with perceived sport pressures may lessen the risk of female athletes developing an eating disorder.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Anderson, Carlin Mahan
Partner: UNT Libraries