Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Klaus Cavalhieri


In previous research, it found that the risk of developing an eating disorder (ED) is much higher in females compared to males (Dunca, Ziobrowski & Nicol, 2017; Raevuori, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hoek, 2014; Lewinsohn, Seeley, Moerk, & Striegel-Moore, 2002). Similarly, research has shown that the prevalence of EDs is much higher in female athletes compared to male athletes (Johnson, Powers, & Dick, 1999). Despite the risk of developing an ED being higher in females, research has not provided a strong understanding of the prevalence of EDs comparing female student-athletes and female student non-athletes. There is research that shows that athletes may have a lower risk of developing an ED (Hausenblas & McNally, 2004; Sanford-Martens et al. 2005; DiBartolo & Shaffer, 2002), in contrast, there is research that shows athletes may have a higher risk of developing an ED (Torstveit, Rosenvinge & Sundgot-Borgen, 2007; Greenleaf, Petrie, Carer & Reel, 2009). The goal of this study was to address this gap in the literature and investigate whether there was a difference in ED symptoms and body image concerns among athletes and non-athletes. Additionally, this study aimed to further understand how sociocultural factors impact female athletes and non-athletes differently. 71 women (34 athletes) responded to survey data and two analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted to test whether there was a difference between groups. This study found that there were no significant differences in ED symptoms between groups, but there were differences in the societal influence on eating disturbances and body image. Particularly, some differences suggest that female athletes may internalize and feel more pressure to meet the standards of appearance set by society and culture.