Comparison of disordered eating symptoms and emotion regulation difficulties between female college athletes and non-athletes



Female college students report a higher prevalence of disordered eating symptoms than their student-athlete counterparts

Female college athletes appear to have better emotion regulation skills than non-athletes

Emotion regulation may be an important predictor of disordered eating in female college students

Emotion regulation assessment should be considered for inclusion in DE screenings with female college population



The purpose of the study was to compare the prevalence of disordered eating between female college athletes and non-athletes and explore emotion regulation as a potential mediator of the link between participation in athletics and disordered eating symptoms. Data for this cross-sectional study came from 527 college students in a mid-western state of the USA in fall of 2013 (376 non-athletes and 151 athletes). Disordered eating symptoms and emotion regulation were assessed utilizing the Eating Attitudes Test and the Difficulties with Emotion Regulation Scale in a survey-based format. The prevalence of disordered eating was higher in non-athletes (16.5%, vs. 6.6%; X2 = 62.8; p < .05). Non-athletes reported more signs and symptoms of disordered eating than athletes (p < .01). A linear regression approach indicated a statistically significant indirect effect (0.63, CI95 = 0.18, 1.20) of athletic-status on disordered eating via emotion regulation; however, this effect did not reach practical significance. Our findings show that female athletes in our sample were somewhat protected from disordered eating compared to non-athletes, but the mechanism of this relationship is unclear. A further in-depth examination of other factors, such as self-esteem and body satisfaction, that may have contributed to this finding is warranted utilizing a large sample of female college students and athletes representing a variety of sports.


  • Disordered eating
  • Emotion regulation
  • Female college athletes
  • College non-athletes

Autor / Fonte:Gena Wollenberg, Lenka H Shriver, Gail E Gates Eating Behaviors 2015 March 28, 18: 1-6