Publication Date

Fall 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging


John Gieng


Athletes, Body Composition, Diet, Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, Eating Behavior, Eating disorder

Subject Areas

Nutrition; Psychology; Kinesiology


Performance pressures and emphasis on body weight and shape put collegiate athletes at risk for disordered eating. If not identified early, disordered eating behaviors could develop into a clinical eating disorder. While such behaviors are a known problem, prevalence rates are not well established in collegiate athletes. Disordered eating may also relate to physiological changes in athletes, such as body composition and performance, although this relationship is not well understood. The aims of this research were to 1) determine the prevalence of disordered eating risk in NCAA Division I student-athletes and 2) determine if such behaviors are related to baseline and changes in body composition over a competitive season. Athletes (n=58) competing in eight different sports (football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s basketball, gymnastics, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s diving), from an urban university, completed the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) questionnaire and two dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) body composition scans, one at preseason and another at postseason. While no risk for disordered eating was found in this sample, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was positively correlated with EAT-26 scores (r=0.661, p=0.038) among female gymnasts. Reasons for these findings are unclear; however, it is thought that the ethnic diversity of the sample played a role in the absence of disordered eating risk in this study. Further research is needed to better understand if ethnicity plays a role in disordered eating risk.