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Title: The etiological significance of physical activity and sport participation in the risk profile for eating disorders in elite female athletes : development of a model
Author: Meade, Mary Margaret
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Background: Despite an increased research interest in eating disorders in sport, more questions than answers still remain regarding the relationship between sports participation and risk for eating disorders. However, the use of sport specific terms such as Anorexia Athletica and the Female Athlete Triad are acknowledgement that participation in high performance sport can be high risk for certain athletes. Given the serious health implications and high mortality rate associated with eating disorders, the aim of this thesis was to address key unresolved issues in the area. Objectives: The main aims were threefold. The primary aim was to establish the prevalence rates of eating disorders in elite international female athletes and in athletes from different cultural backgrounds. Secondly, given the inconclusive findings regarding the influence of level of competition on risk for eating disorders, prevalence rates were examined in females across the physical activity spectrum. Finally, an exploratory model was devised in an attempt to explain the pathway to eating disorder development and maintenance in elite female athletes. Findings: The key findings that emerged for the two main investigations suggest that the risk for disordered eating in elite athletes is high. The prevalence rate of clinical eating disorders in the exercise group and non-sporting student sample was found to be comparable to those reported for the general population. The model presented in thls thesis highlights the importance of looking beyond one causal explanation for eating disorder development in female athletes. It suggests that there may be several reasons for eating disorder development in sport, of which one is the heightened focus on weight. The dominance of the sociocultural explanation of eating disorder development may have limited our ability to fully establish why certain athletes may be placed at high-risk of eating disorders.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available