Purpose: To determine the prevalence of disordered eating (DE) attitudes and behaviors in a multi-racial/ethnic sample of female high-school athletes.
Methods: The Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) was administered to 453 suburban female high-school athletes (277 Caucasian, 103 Latina, and 73 African American; aged 15.7 +/- 1.2 years) during their competitive season.
Results: The prevalence of DE in the total sample was 19.6%; among the three ethnic groups, prevalence estimates were 19.2%, 18.4%, and 23.3% for African Americans, Caucasians, and Latinas, respectively. The prevalence estimates of binge eating (12.6%) and vomiting (7.8%) were significantly higher in Latinas as compared to African Americans (5.5%, 1.4%) and Caucasians (5.4%, 2.2%; chi2 p < .05). The prevalence of diuretic and laxative use was low among all athletes (< 3%), with no differences by ethnicity (p > .05). After adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and sport, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with Bonferroni post-hoc pair-wise comparisons indicated that Caucasian and Latina athletes scored higher than African Americans on all EDE-Q subscales except eating restraint, which was higher only in Caucasians compared to African Americans (p = .001-.046).
Conclusions: Caucasian and Latina female high-school athletes may be at greater risk for eating disorders than their African American peers. Furthermore, Latina athletes may be particularly at risk for binge-eating disorder. Culturally-sensitive behavioral interventions targeted specifically for high-school athletes are needed to reduce the risk of eating disorders and associated long-term health consequences in this population.