Risk Factors for Disordered Eating in High School and College Athletes

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The present study compared disordered eating behavior in high school and college athletes. Results indicated significant differences between high school and college athletes in disordered eating, body dissatisfaction, and excessive exercise. Females were more likely to display disordered eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction than were males. Self-esteem correlated with body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and excessive exercise. Predictors of eating disordered behavior in college athletes were body dissatisfaction and self-esteem, with body dissatisfaction having more of an influence. For high school athletes, the primary predictor of disordered eating was body dissatisfaction followed by excessive exercise. Results from the present study suggests that when athletes are dissatisfied with their bodies, they are more likely to develop disordered eating and exercise behaviors. There are indications that coaches and trainers need to be aware of the possibility of disordered eating and exercise behaviors in athletes, and watch for the identified predictors of those behaviors.

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