A prospective study of eating disturbances in the ballet

Psychother Psychosom. 1987;48(1-4):170-5. doi: 10.1159/000288049.


A group of 35 ballet students was assessed and then retested between 2 and 4 years later to determine the persistence of eating symptoms and to identify factors which predict eating disorders. Of those interviewed at follow-up, 25.7% had anorexia nervosa and 14.2% had either bulimia nervosa or a 'partial syndrome'. 'Drive for thinness' and 'body dissatisfaction' scales of the Eating Disorder Inventory were the only measures which predicted development of eating disorders at follow-up. The finding that most cases of anorexia nervosa gained weight at follow-up was similar to an earlier report; however, the view that these disorders were benign adaptations to the ballet subculture was challenged by the observation that many continued to experience significant eating disorder symptoms at follow-up. Findings indicate that vulnerable adolescents may be identified early using economical self-report measures as the initial step in a two-stage screening process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Body Image
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk Factors