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Evaluating contextual body image, eating, and exercise behaviors in college athletes
The current study assessed the associations between disordered eating, excessive exercise, and contextual body image within a sample of Division I college student-athletes. Sixty-five student-athletes anonymously completed an online survey consisting of a series of eating, exercise, and body image related assessments followed by open-ended questions regarding their motivation to workout and overall student-athlete and college experience. Results indicated that there was no significant association between excessive exercise and disordered eating (r = .19, p = .130; two-tailed), however, there was a significant association between athletic identity and excessive exercise (r = .433, p = .0003). Point biserial correlations and Welch sample t-tests revealed that gender had a significant association with disordered eating (rpb = .324, n = 65, p = .009) however, sport-type did not (rpb = .044, n = 65, p = .729). The current study is consistent with prior research showing that females score higher on scales of disordered eating behavior than males. Furthermore, this study provides evidence to suggest that female athletes may experience differences with their body image, particularly their shape (rpb = .256, n = 65, p = .04), in different contexts (i.e., in daily life context) compared to male athletes. Follow up research should continue to examine the impact of athletic identity, excessive exercise, and disordered eating for all athletes regardless of sport-type and gender.