Miller 1

Cammi Miller Mrs. Burr, Instructor English 1010, Section 3 19 December 2013 Collegiate Athletes, Students, and Body Image Disorders Victoria Jackson was a normal, healthy runner who had been improving greatly during her junior year in high school when University of North Carolina‟s head recruiter Michael Whittlesey became very interested in her. He wanted her to come run for their school at Chapel Hill. Mr. Whittlesey was scouting out runners who were fit, happy and healthy when he found Victoria. The first time Mr. Whittlesey saw Victoria he saw just what he was looking for, a happy, healthy, solid runner. The problem was that she had a background of eating disorders and the opportunity to run at a higher level brought along a lot of stress. By the time Victoria Arrived on campus to start practicing and competing with the cross country team, she had lost too much weight, making her too sick and too weak to compete; his star recruit had let him down. Victoria was determined to get well and compete again. She began gaining weight and was able to compete in some races but later regressed (Strout A44+). The problem with body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in high competing athletes is that this isn‟t a new issue. These kinds of things have been going on for a long time and coaches just now are starting to act upon it. Before now coaches and athletes wanted to win at any costs, not knowing the negative effects of drastic and rapid weight loss. In fact eating disorders have been going on for a long time and coaches now have been studying the signs and are taking action on it: Research shows that about 40 percent of newly identified cases of

Miller 2

anorexia in females ages 15 to 19, making it important for coaches to learn symptoms so they spot them during the recruiting process… Seeing an athlete with an overly thin, prepubescent-looking body leads college coaches to search for other signs of eating disorders, like excessive body-hair growth, abnormally dry and yellowing skin, thinning hair, brittle or discolored nails, and drastic mood swings. (Strout A44+) Common risk factors that can contribute to body dissatisfaction or eating disorders include, stress, the level at which an athlete is competing, whether it is a judged sport or a refereed sport, family, and their surroundings (Schwarz 345). There is a big difference between a Division I gymnast and a Division III softball player and the stress and expectations that go along with them; a gymnast is pressured to have a slim, fit, muscular body along with being able to perform perfected routines, while a softball player is just pressured to be able to throw well, run fast, and hit the ball hard (Heffner 209). Although there is less of a problem today with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction in athletes, there are still issues that should be solved. Analyzed tests between female college athletes and college female non-athletes will show and contrast between the two. Many key components will be used in tests to determine if a student or athlete has an eating disorder or body dissatisfaction such as disturbances in eating patterns, the social influence for thinness, performance anxiety, self-appraisal of athletic achievement, their surroundings, parental influence, and the type of sport they play (Donald 389). The main question is, are eating disorders and body dissatisfaction among female student athletes or female student non-athletes greater? The Difference Between Athletes and Nonathletes; Compare and Contrast

Miller 3

The definition of eating disorder is, “any of various disorders, as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, characterized by severe disturbances in eating habits.” The definition of body dissatisfaction is when someone is upset with themselves and they don‟t like their bodies. These are real problems today. Finding eating disorders among women and girls has gotten more and more common today especially since Diane K. Daddario states that obesity has become America‟s most serious epidemic. Athletes today want to be slim and toned and in today‟s society they have hammered the ideas of being stick thin and skinny into everyone‟s minds. We are surrounded by it and judged according to. In college students moving to a new school and environment, the pressure to get good grades, and the stress of higher education can trigger the beginning of an eating disorder. With athletes the pressure to perform well, maintain a certain GPA, and being able to cooperate with the new environment can have major effects with health. These days coaches have learned to spot eating disorders in their potential recruits: They have learned to understand the “female athlete triad” (see fig. 1, Page 4) “Some physical signs of eating disorders include dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, intolerance to cold, significant weight loss, and dental and gum problems. Behavioral and psychological symptoms include excessive exercise, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, and excessive time spent in the bathroom…. Mr. Whittlesey, a recruiter for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says, An eating disorder can threaten a girl‟s long term health or even cause death…. You can‟t pick out every person, but you can learn to see the warning signs. (Strout A44+) When a recruit comes for a campus tour and to visit the team coaches will usually have the

Miller 4

recruit hang out with the team. The team will keep a close eye on the recruits and report back to the coach on if they ate, if they went to the bathroom a lot right after dinner, or if they played with their food instead of eating it. Some athletes seem to associate being thin with success in their sport or activity. This „performance-related‟ drive for thinness makes some college athletes believe that with lower body fat, they will enhance performance in their sport. The type of sport may mediate the risk of eating pathology among athletes. One study compared eating disorders among three groups of female students; athletes who competed in judges sports, athletes who competed in refereed (Thien-Nisenbaum, Jill “Triple threat: The female athlete triad and injury risk.”) spo rts, and stu den ts wh o did not part icip ate in competitive sports. As a matter of fact, 14% of the women in judges sports had eating disorders compared 3% in the refereed sports and 3% in the non-athletic group. (Schwarz et al.

Miller 5

345+) Female athletes have a drive for perfection and after so much concern about it, they become obsessed. Athletes may be so concerned about their performance that they become quite disappointed in themselves for performing poorly. Haley C. Schwarz noted other authors that had compared athletes with non-athletes and found that perfectionism was the only factor that significantly distinguished the groups. Athletes had higher levels of perfectionism compared to non-athletes. Perfectionism in college athletes is linked to drive for thinness and other eating attitudes (Schwarz et al. 345+). The study that Schwarz conducted between female athletes and female non-athletes showed that non-athletes had a bigger problem with body dissatisfaction than athletes. Donald A. Williamson came up with a structural equation modeling of risk factors for the development of eating disorder symptoms in female athletes. They took a sample of 98 Female Athletes from 8 sports teams and gave them questionnaires that are designed to measure; social influences for thinness, sports competition anxiety, athletic achievement, and concern with body size and shape. They were also interviewed for evaluation of eating disorder symptoms (Williamson et al 387-9). In depth social influence is where the people around the athletes have an effect of them both positive and negative. Sports competition anxiety is when athletes get nervous about upcoming events or school work. Athletic self-appraisal is when the athlete is either happy, sad, or mad about themselves. Over Concern with body size is when an athlete focuses too much on their body size because they believe it isn‟t right for their sport and that with a different body shape they could become better. The results supported Williamson‟s prediction that over concern with body size was a primary and strong mediator of other risk factors for developing eating disorder symptoms in female athletes. The model suggested that social pressure for thinness from coaches and peers, combined with anxiety about athletic

Miller 6

performance and negative self-appraisal of athletic achievement was associated with increase concern about body size and shape. Their conclusion was that more than one risk factor has to occur at the same time for there to be an over concern with body size leading to eating patterns and disorders (Williamson et al. 391-2). In another study conducted by Warren, Stanton, and Blessing they compared a sample of NCAA Division I female athletes to a college female non-athlete control group. Recent reports indicate that some female athletes collegiate athletes attempt to enhance performance by taking extraordinary measures to reduce body fat. (Warren et al. 565) This could all be depending on the type of sport that is being played. For example a Division I Gymnast might be more concerned with their weight and body proportion than a Division I soccer player. For a runner being skinnier would enhance their speed, for a gymnast it would make them lighter so their flips and tricks could be better and more precise, however compared to runners, gymnasts may place more emphasis on an aesthetic standard for appearance. Warren et al. state that participation in a sport for which low body weight is important to performance does not appear invariably to confer risk for eating disorder. The results to their test between college female athletes and college female non-athletes is that the typical college female athlete is in the normal range for body mass and eating patterns. Also that athletes are not likely to manifest the symptom constellation characteristic of eating disorders, although engagement in some specific problematic behaviors may characterize some athletes (Warren et al. 352, 568). Victoria Blackmer, H. Russell Searight, and Susan H. Ratwik conclude in their test between the relationship of eating attitudes, body image and perceived family of origin that eating disordered behavior is prevalent among college students, particularly women. Other studies have found body image discomfort and disordered eating patterns to be significant

Miller 7

problems among college athletes and dancers. However the majority of college students, including athletes, do not develop eating disorders (Blackmer et al. 435+). Families play a big part in the success and health of an athlete. Parental influences have become a risk factor to developing an eating disorder and gaining body dissatisfaction (Francisco 1082). Parents with eating disorders have an effect on their children by showing them that eating orders are normal. Children look up to an adults so whatever the adult does, the child tries to mimic. Being away from home also adds to the risk of gaining eating patterns. When Parents‟ children leave for college, they can get lonely. The feeling of depression from not being around family all day everyday has the ability to influence the person that eating won‟t help them feel any better, so they won‟t eat. While perceived family climate did not differ by gender, females reported higher level of eating disordered behavior as well as greater body image distress (Blackmer et al. 425+). Conclusion Eating disorders among college female athletes and college female non-athletes is not a new issue. There are so many risk factors that contribute to eating disorders such as, “...an athlete with an overly thin, prepubescent-looking body leads college coaches to search for other signs of eating disorders, like excessive body-hair growth, abnormally dry and yellowing skin, thinning hair, brittle or discolored nails, and drastic mood swings.” (Strout A44+). College coaches today have been learning to look for the signs of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. They use many different tactics including learning the Female Athlete Triad, having their recruits hang out with the team and have the team report back to them, and by getting to the the recruits personally. Although college female athletes tend to have more eating disorders and body dissatisfactions, college female athletes still struggle with the same things.

Miller 8

Works Cited Blackmer, VictoriaSearight, H. RussellRatwik, Susan H. “The Relationship Between Eating Attitudes, Body Image And Percieved Family –Of –Origin Climate Among College Athletes.” North American Journal Of Psychology 13.3 (2011):436-46. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 Daddario, Daine K. “A Review Of The Use Of The Health Belief Model For Weight Management.” MEDSURG Nursing 16.6 (2007): 363-6. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. Donald A., Richard G. et al. “Structural Equation Modeling of Risk Factors for the Development of Eating Disorder Symptoms in Female Athletes.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 17.4 (1995): 387-93. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 Francisco, Rita, et al. “Parental Influences On Elite Aesthetic Athletes‟ Body Image Dissatisfaction And Disordered Eating.” Journal Of Child & Family Studies 22.8 (2013): 1082-91. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 Heffner, Jaimee l., et al. “Nutrition And Eating In Female College Athletes: A Survey Of Coaches.” Eating Disorders 11.3 (2003): 209. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 Schwarz, Haley C., et Al. “Eating Attitudes, Body Dissatisfaction, And Perfectionism In Female College Athletes.” North American Journal Of Psychology 7.3 (2005): 345-52. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. Strout, Erin. “What The Stopwatch Doesn‟t Tell.” Chronicle Of Higher Education 53.24 (2007): A44-A46. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. Thien-Nissenbaum, Jill “Triple threat: The female athlete triad and injury risk.” Lowerextremityreview.com Sep. 2012. Web. 19 December 2013 Warren, Beverly J., Annette L. Stanton, and Daniel L. Blessing. “Disordered Eating Patterns In Competitive Female Athletes.” International Journal Of Eating Disorders 9.5 (1990):

Miller 9

565-9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Dec. 2013