Disordered eating behaviors among collegiate athletes

Stephanie Milbradt Marchand, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this study was to examine the rates of disordered eating behaviors among collegiate athletes at a Division I university and to evaluate environmental factors that influence these behaviors. The study also examined whether athletes with more disordered eating behaviors assess and respond to environmental factors differently than athletes with fewer disordered eating behaviors. ^ The student-athletes completed an Athlete's Questionnaire; the Body Dissatisfaction, Drive for Thinness, and Bulimia subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2; and the Eating Attitude Test-26. Coaches and athletic trainers completed either a Coach's or Athletic Trainer's Questionnaire. Focus groups with athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers were held to assess important issues about eating at the institution and nationally in the sport, important influences on the eating habits of the individual athletes, and ideas to promote healthy eating habits among the athletes at the institution. Two-sample t procedures and one-sample chi-square tests were used to compare male and female athletes. Responses of focus groups participants were recorded and comparisons were made within and between focus groups. ^ No males but 9.5% of female athletes were at risk to develop eating disorders. In addition, a high percentage of athletes participating in sports not emphasizing leanness such as women's soccer, women's softball, and men's football used disordered eating behaviors to control weight. Environmental factors that played a role in the prevalence of disordered eating behaviors included influences by teammates, coaches, and family as well as the media on the eating habits of the athletes, sports emphasizing leanness, and stereotypical beliefs of desirable body shapes for specific sports. High risk female athletes appeared more accepting of teammates' and/or coaches' influences on their eating habits than low risk female athletes. ^ Interventions to prevent disordered eating should include all athletes in a specific community; male and female athletes in lean and non-lean sports. Risk factors for disordered eating behaviors among athletes are very complex and likely differ with each athletic environment. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Nutrition|Psychology, General

Recommended Citation

Stephanie Milbradt Marchand, "Disordered eating behaviors among collegiate athletes" (2007). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3284826.