Disordered eating attitudes and behaviors in ballet students: examination of environmental and individual risk factors

Int J Eat Disord. 2005 Nov;38(3):263-8. doi: 10.1002/eat.20185.


Objective: The current study compared the prevalence of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors among adolescent ballet dancers at national, regional, and local schools.

Method: Female ballet students (N = 239; mean age = 15.0 +/- 1.5 years) from five geographically disparate summer programs completed the Eating Dis-order Inventory (EDI) and answered questions regarding eating disorder symptoms.

Results: Students from both national and local schools reported significantly higher EDI total, Drive for Thinness, and Perfectionism scores compared with regional students. In contrast, national students reported significantly greater dieting scores and lifetime histories of self-induced vomiting compared with regional and local students.

Conclusion: Eating pathology among adolescent ballet dancers may be a function of both genetic and environmental risk. Dancers who exhibit high levels of perfectionism and, perhaps consequently, place themselves in highly competitive environments, may exhibit a significantly increased risk for disordered eating in comparison to dancers who are less perfectionistic and/or place themselves in less competitive environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Dancing / psychology*
  • Environment
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Students
  • United States / epidemiology