Effects of sport pressures on female collegiate athletes: A preliminary longitudinal investigation.

Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 04/2012; 1(2):120-134. DOI: 10.1037/a0026587

ABSTRACT Female athletes have been identified as a population at risk for disordered eating, and a recent theoretical model (Petrie & Greenleaf, in press) has identified sociocultural factors that may define that risk. In this study, we examined three central constructs in the model—sport pressures regarding body, weight, and appearance; body dissatisfaction; and dietary restraint—within a sample of female collegiate gymnasts and swimmers/divers. Using cross-lagged panel analyses, we determined that sport pressures and dietary restraint remained highly stable over the course of a 5-month competitive season. As expected, Time 1 sport pressures predicted increases in body dissatisfaction at Time 2; no similar effects were found, however, on dietary restraint. Our findings provide direction for interventions that could reduce female athletes' risk of developing disordered eating by targeting messages, ideals, and behaviors within the sport environment that communicate the supposed importance of weight loss and appearance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)