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Nutrition and Eating in Female College Athletes: A Survey of Coaches

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The purpose of the present study was to gather information from coaches regarding their monitoring/management of athlete eating and weight, knowledge of nutritional health issues, availability of prevention/intervention services for athletes at their school, expience with athletes exhibiting symptoms of eating and body image disturbances, and their attitudes toward eating and weight in the sport. A total of 303 coaches (51% response rate) involved in six sports (i.e., gymnastics, swimming, basketball, softball, track, and volleyball) at all levels of collegiate competition (NCAA Divisions I, II, III, and NAIA) completed a 40-item survey. Gender was found to be related to differential responding on only one of the 40 items, while sport and level of competition were related to responses on multiple items. Gymnastics coaches and NCAA Division I coaches differed significantly from coaches of other sports and divisions in that they reported more monitoring/management behaviors, had more experience with athletes exhibiting eating disturbances, and had more resources available for preventing and treating athletes with eating disorders. Gymnastics coaches also differed from other coaches on a number of items related to their attitudes toward eating and weight in the sport. Many coaches have encountered disturbed eating among their athletes, and some of their coaching attitudes and behaviors may inadvertently increase the risk for such disturbances. Implications for clinical and sport psychologists providing prevention or intervention services to intercollegiate athletes are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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