Desperate measures : eating disorders in female high school and college athletes

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Tobias, Julia A.
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Thesis (M.A.)
School of Physical Education
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The purpose of this study was to examine the clinical characteristics, epidemiology, and some current theories of etiology of eating disorders in female athletes.Two of the major disorders of concern to today's student-athlete were anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexia was self-imposed starvation in an obsessive effort to lose weight and become thin. Bulimia was characterized by secretive binge-eating episodes usually followed by purging in the form of self-induced vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics.Subjects were 125 females between the ages of 14 - 21 years of age. Thirty-seven were in high school and 38 were in college; all of whom participated in sports. Twenty-five high school and 25 college students served as the control group. The subjects were given the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI). The questionnaire consisted of 64 questions which measured a variety of attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. The EDI consisted of eight subscales. Body Mass Index (BMI) was computed.Findings indicated that none of these athletes had scores indicative of the constellation of disturbances in eating patterns and personality attributes seen in anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Rather, results suggested that the typical high school and college female athlete falls into the normal range with regard to body mass and eating patterns. The competitive female cross-country runner actually may be at slightly less risk for body dissatisfaction than her nonathlete counterpart, whereas the gymnast may be at somewhat greater risk for weight preoccupation.