Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Edmond P Bowers

Committee Member

Lauren N. Duffy

Committee Member

Dorothy L. Schmalz

Committee Member

Janelle Lenhoff

Abstract

Eating-related pathologies such as body image concerns, drive for muscularity, and disordered eating behaviors are among the issues plaguing student-athletes today, as the pressure to look a certain way may rival the pressure to perform. Although concerns regarding body image and eating behaviors are not exclusive to student-athletes, their unique roles on college campuses and in communities often place them at greater risk for the development of eating-related concerns. As negative eating-related psychopathologies may have an impact not only on sport performance but also on overall health and well-being, it is important to understand predictive factors that may influence body image concerns, drive for muscularity, and eating behaviors. Therefore, the purpose of this mixed method study was (a) to identify to what degree body image concerns, drive for muscularity, and disordered eating behaviors were present in student-athletes at a NCAA Division I university and (b) to examine the influence of individual strengths and contextual factors on these eating-related psychopathologies in the context of sport. Results indicated that, in general, body image and disordered eating behaviors are a greater concern than drive for muscularity for NCAA Division I student-athletes. While quantitative results pointed to the fact that student-athletes are engaging in eating behaviors as opposed to not eating, qualitative results suggested that the eating behaviors student-athletes adopt may actually fall within the scope of disordered eating behaviors. Implications for these findings include offering optional Bod Pod testing, adapting education to clearly address what constitutes healthy eating behaviors, and working to improve coach-athlete relationships. Additional results support previous literature that links personal competence/confidence, pro-social behaviors, and parental relationships to more positive body image, lower drive for muscularity, and fewer disordered eating behaviors. Finally, student-athletes desire support, education, and openness in navigating eating-related concerns.

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