Female athletes experience pressure to conform to social and sporting norms concerning body weight. This study compared general and sporting body dissatisfaction and disordered eating symptomatology among 320 elite, recreational, and noncompetitive female athletes aged 17 to 30 years competing in leanness focused sports and nonleanness focused sports. Participants completed an online questionnaire including demographic questions, the Eating Attitudes Test, and the Figure Rating Scale. Athletes from leanness focused sports reported higher levels of body dissatisfaction and greater disordered eating symptomatology regardless of participation level. Elite athletes reported higher levels of body dissatisfaction and greater disordered eating symptomatology regardless of sport type, and differences between recreational and noncompetitive athletes were not found. More than 60% of elite athletes from leanness focused and nonleanness focused sports reported pressure from coaches concerning body shape. The findings have important implications for identifying risk factors for eating disorders among female athletes, where athletes who compete at elite level and those who compete in leanness focused sports at any level may be at higher risk for developing eating disorders.
Keywords: athletes; body dissatisfaction; body image; contextual; eating disorder symptoms; sport.