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Dancer Disordered Eating: Comparison of Disordered Eating Behavior and Nutritional Status Among Female Dancers

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The purpose of this study was to assess nutritional status; to examine the prevalence of disordered eating behavior; and to determine if a relationship existed between nutritional status and disordered eating behavior among female dancers. Twenty-one female dance majors from the undergraduate dance department at a major northeastern university participated in the survey which included: three-day food and activity records from the DINE U.S. nutritional program; EAT-26 eating attitudes assessment; and University Dancer Profile (UDP), an instrument designed by the principal researcher.

On the EAT-26, 4 out of 21 subjects (19%) scored in eating disorder symptomatic range. The group means for the DINE U.S. nutritional subscales were below recommended levels: caloric intake, 59% (SD = 17.6); protein, 75% (SD = 20.9); calcium, 48% (SD = 19.8); iron, 63% (SD = 27.8); and phosphorus, 80% (SD = 24.7). A Fisher Exact Test for Significance in a 2 x 2 Contingency Table confirmed no significant relationship between disordered eating behavior and nutritional status. On the UDP, 76% of the sample scored in the Body Dissatisfaction range.

We can conclude, therefore, that the sample population has normal eating attitudes, yet is preoccupied with body weight and shape, and that the subjects restrict their caloric intake. The results of this study indicate that the female dance population may be at risk for developing subclinical eating disorders within the dance subculture, or Dancer Disordered Eating.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dance Program, Koehler Dance Studio, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360 2: Retired from the Department of Movement Studies and Exercise Science at East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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