Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise and Sport Sciences


Eating disorders are psychiatric disorders that affect individuals' nutritional, psychological, emotional, and interpersonal functioning and are characterized by abnormal and harmful eating patterns, as well as distortions in body size or shape (Petrie & Sherman, 1999). Studies have shown that women, college students in particular, have a high prevalence of eating disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; Hausenblas & McNally, 2004; Mintz & Betz,1988). ln the college community, a population of focus is female athletes. The prevalence of eating disorders in this population has been examined thoroughly (Burckes-Miller & Black, 1988a; Smolak, Murnen, & Ruble, 2000). A meta-analysis by Hausenblas and Carron (1999) found female athletes to report more anorexic and bulimic symptoms than non-athletes, especially within lean sports (e.g.,.figure skating and gymnastics). Research has also shown that sociocultural factors (i.e., family, teammates, coaches, and media) can impact female athletes with eating disorders (Sherman & Thompson, 2001). However, there has been limited research investigating the personality factors (i.e., body satisfaction and self-esteem) of female athletes (Pritchard, Milligan, Elgin, Rush, & Shea, 2007). The purpose of this study was to identify the impact of eating disorder behaviors on a female collegiate athlete's body satisfaction and self-esteem. One female student athlete was interviewed twice, using a semi-structured interview format, to identify the influence of her eating disorder behaviors on her body satisfaction and self-esteem. The interviews were analyzed and higher-order themes were identified. Six themes emerged: 1) Eating behaviors were a way to control her life; 2) Eating behaviors lead to a negative self-perception; 3) Conflict with family developed due to eating behaviors; 4) Eating behaviors caused for poor performance in sport; 5) Eating behaviors generated self isolation causing self-loathing and internal discord; and 6) Self-perceived coping strategies enhanced her lifestyle. Each theme was discussed in relation to the existing literature.



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