The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Disorders in Female College Athletes

Date

2023-05

Authors

Heiser, Courtney

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Abstract

The number of female athletes participating in college sports has drastically expanded since the incorporation of Title IX in 1972, with an increase of about 628%. As the number of female athletes participating in college athletics continues to rise, the health concerns of women athletes also rise. The main health concerns identified include disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis, forming what has been dubbed the female athlete triad . Disordered eating is more common in female athletes than non-athletes, and more common in sports in which aesthetics and weight are considered important. While the psychology behind what causes an eating disorder is not yet well researched, perfectionism potentially plays an important role. Athletes with eating disorders report significantly lower levels of emotional well-being, mental health, vitality, and general health. Furthermore, disordered eating can lead to a negative effect on physical fitness and sports performance, despite the fact that many eating disorders develop as a perceived solution to those very issues. Preventative measures are being taught to coaches and athletic trainers to try to deter patterns of disordered eating. As eating disorders are more difficult to treat the longer they progress, early intervention is necessary in order to ensure adequate treatment and outcome. In this paper, I examine the factors that potentially underlie the development of eating disorders, their physiological and psychological effects, and what steps can be taken to better prevent them.

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Keywords

eating disorders, female, college athlete, psychology, physiology, Honors College

Citation

Heiser, C. (2023). The physiological and psychological effects of eating disorders in female college athletes. Honors College, Texas State University.

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