Body image satisfaction, eating attitudes and reasons for exercising in female adolescents : the effects of participating in a team sport

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Shannon, Donna
Issue Date
BA in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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It has been suggested that participation in a team sport during adolescence may relate to the levels of body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating among females. Research in the area has been inconsistent with both increased and decreased body image dissatisfaction and high and low rates of disordered eating reported for athletes when compared with non-athletes. This study attempts to examine the relationship between participation in a team sport, body image satisfaction and eating attitudes in female adolescents. Twenty adolescent, female, team sport participants were compared with twenty adolescent, non-sport participants on measures of body image satisfaction (Body Image Questionnaire - BIQ) and eating attitudes (Eating Attitudes Test - EAT). As the reasons for engaging in exercise may effect body image dissatisfaction and the level of disordered eating in female adolescents, the relationships between motives to engage in exercise and EAT and BIQ scores were also examined. A significant difference was found in the EAT scores between team sports participants and non-participants (F(1,38) = 9.7, p<.01). No significant difference was found in between the two groups on BIQ scores (F(1,38) .311, P = 0.58). A significant positive correlation was found between weight/appearance reasons for exercising and EAT scores (tau 0.458, p<0.01, two-tailed). No significant correlation was found between BIQ scores and weight/appearance reasons for exercising (tau = 0.25, p>0.05, ns, two-tailed). The results suggest that team sport participation may be a potential protective factor against the development of disordered eating in female adolescents. It was suggested that due to the difficulties with the validation of the BIQ with adolescent and athlete population's no unequivocal conclusion about the relationship between participation in team sport and levels of body image dissatisfaction could be inferred from the results. Further methodological issues were addressed. Areas for future research, such as the relationship between femininity /masculinity and participation in team sport, were also suggested.