Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Kunkel, M. Elizabeth


The purposes of this study were to 1) determine the prevalence of disordered eating among female varsity athletes, and 2) determine if there is a greater prevalence of disordered eating among athletes who participate in sports that emphasize leanness than those that do not.
This study was designed to measure levels of behavior related to disordered eating patterns rather than to diagnose any eating disorders among the participants. The survey included a web-based version of the self-reported Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) questionnaire as well as demographic questions. The 26 question EAT-26 survey consists of three sub-scales: dieting, bulimia and food preoccupation, and oral control.
Those invited to participate were female varsity athletes from three Atlantic Coast Conference universities; their university athletic director sent the athletes an informational letter containing a link to the web-based survey and invited them to complete the survey. Sixty-four athletes from the three universities completed the survey. Respondents were categorized as participating in a 'lean' or 'non-lean' sport based on physical esthetics associated with that sport.
Forty-five (70.3%) of the women participated in a non-lean sport and 17 (26.6%) participated in a lean sport. Two (3.1%) participants did not indicate a sport affiliation. The mean BMI for the total population was 22.3 ± 2.5, with one athlete significantly underweight and 10 overweight according to standards.
The prevalence of greater risk of disordered eating behaviors among the respondents was 23.4%, with no significant differences based on types of sports in which they participated. Relative risk of disordered eating behaviors among the total sample was 0.97. The mean score for the EAT-26 across the entire sample was 10.42 ± 11.32, indicating a wide range of eating behaviors among this population. The mean EAT-26 score for the non-lean sports was 9.73 ± 11.70, and the mean score for the lean sports was 11.94 ± 10.84; these means are not statistically significantly different. The two sports with the highest mean score on the EAT-26 were the non-lean sports of volleyball and golf and the lowest score was reported by basketball and gymnastics.

Included in

Nutrition Commons



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