Medical professionals have recognized eating disorders and related problems in competitive athletes. Auxiliary members (color guard, dance, majorettes) experience the same appearance-related pressures observed in sports commonly associated with eating disorders.
To estimate eating-disorder prevalence based on associated eating-disorder characteristics and behaviors in female auxiliary members and to compare perceived and ideal body images and anthropometric measurements between at-risk and not–at-risk participants for eating-disorder characteristics and behaviors.
Three universities in the southeastern United States.
Patients or Other Participants:
Participants (n = 101, mean age = 19.2 ± 1.2 years) represented 3 auxiliary units, including color guard (n = 35), dance line (n = 47), and majorettes (n = 19).
Main Outcome Measure(s):
Participants self-reported menstrual history, height, and weight. Anthropometric measurements included height, weight, body fat percentage, and waist and hip circumferences. We screened for eating-disorder risk behavior with the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT)-26 and for body dissatisfaction with the Figural Stimuli Survey.
Based on the EAT-26, we estimated eating-disorder prevalence among members to measure 29.7% (95% confidence interval = 20.8%, 38.6%). The EAT-26 results revealed that 21% of participants used purgatives and 14% vomited to control weight or shape. The at-risk group had higher scores on the EAT-26 total (P ≤ .01) and on the dieting (P ≤ .01), oral control (P = .02), and bulimia (P = .01) subscales. Hip circumference (P = .01), self-reported weight (P = .03), measured weight (P = .04), difference between measured and preferred weights (P = .02), and calculated target weight (P = .02) were different between the at-risk and not–at-risk groups.
Collegiate auxiliary unit members may have an unacceptable prevalence of eating disorders. Our results validate concerns that auxiliary members may exhibit an unacceptable eating-disorder risk, highlighting the need to examine and address unhealthy weight-management behaviors independent of eating-disorder status.