Award Date

8-1-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Cortney Warren

Second Committee Member

Laurel Pritchard

Third Committee Member

Bradley Donohue

Fourth Committee Member

Larry Ashley

Number of Pages

148

Abstract

Eating pathology (e.g., body dissatisfaction, binge eating, purging, restrictive eating) and substance use (e.g., dietary supplements, legal and illegal drugs) proliferate university settings in the United States. Within university settings, athletes appear to be at particularly high risk for eating pathology and supplement use due to the external pressures to be attractive, the need to perform at optimal levels, and the specific characteristics of sports in which they participate. Furthermore, the degree to which athletes understand what constitutes healthy eating and exercise habits is understudied and may relate to eating pathology and supplement use. To build on existing research, the overarching purpose of this study was to explore eating pathology, supplement use, and nutrition knowledge in a large sample of male and female Division I athletes. Specifically, I examined 1) base rates and the strength of the relationships between eating pathology, supplement use, level of nutrition knowledge, and the source of nutrition knowledge; 2) differences in base-rates of the aforementioned variables by sex and sport; and 3) differences in the strength of the relationships by sex. Results indicated that, for the sample as a whole, greater ideal-actual weight discrepancy was associated with using less consumable supplements, more muscle-building supplements and less nutrition knowledge; and more nutrition knowledge was associated with using more consumable supplements (e.g., energy bars, sport drinks). For men, greater ideal-actual weight discrepancy was associated with more overall eating pathology; more overall eating pathology was associated with using more total, weight loss/fat burning, and muscle- building supplements; more nutrition knowledge was associated with using more total, consumable, and muscle-building supplements. For women, greater ideal-actual weight discrepancy was associated with more eating pathology and using less consumable supplements; more eating pathology was associated with using more weight loss/fat burning supplements; and more nutrition knowledge was associated with the using more consumable supplements. Surprisingly, ideal-actual weight discrepancy was not associated with supplement use regardless of sex. Mean levels of ideal-actual weight discrepancy, supplement use, and nutrition knowledge also differed by sex such that women wanted to weigh less and had more nutrition knowledge than men. Conversely, men wanted to weigh more, and used more total and muscle-building supplements. There were no sex differences in the use of any other supplements, including weight-loss fat burning supplements. When examined by sport and sex, both male and female soccer athletes were more satisfied with their body than men and women playing other sports (respectively). For men, football athletes had less nutrition knowledge than other male athletes. Interestingly, there were no differences in supplement use for men's sports. For women, softball athletes reported more ideal-actual weight discrepancy than women who participated in diving/swimming or dance; basketball athletes used more muscle-building supplements than women who participated in soccer, cheerleading, volleyball, track, diving/swimming, softball, and dance; cheerleaders had less nutrition knowledge than women participating in soccer; basketball athletes had less nutrition knowledge than women who participated in soccer, volleyball, track, diving/swimming, and softball; and dancers had less nutrition knowledge than women who participated in soccer and diving/swimming. Overall, these results suggest that, regardless of sex, athletes consume large quantities of supplements, report widespread ideal-actual weight discrepancy, and lack basic nutrition knowledge. Given that supplement use in athletes can have a number of negative consequences (e.g., loss of eligibility, deleterious health effects, and loss of fan popularity) and inadequate nutritional knowledge can exacerbate unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors, future research should explore methods of improving access to accurate information and reporting procedures to limit the negative consequences of dietary supplementation.

Keywords

Athletics; College athletes; Dietary supplements; Eating disorders; Eating pathology; Food habits; Nutrition – Study and teaching; Nutrition knowledge; Supplement use

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology | Nutrition | Sports Studies

Language

English


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