Prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating among female collegiate varsity and club sport athletes: A systematic review

Janae T Meyers, Purdue University


Introduction: Eating disorders and disordered eating habits are more prevalent among college women who participate in sports than their non-athlete counterparts. Despite the large population of club sport athletes, which is estimated to be 2 million, research in this area is focused mainly on varsity sport athletes (n = 460,000), as they are hypothesized to be under greater pressure than their club sport peers. The purpose of this review was to summarize the literature regarding prevalence rates of both varsity and club sport female athletes. This was the first review of this subject that considered club sport athletes as a population. Method: The key words colleg*, athlete, eat*, disorder, female, woman, women, and club sport were entered in various combinations into four databases: PubMed, ScienceDirect, SPORTDiscus, and PsycINFO. After exclusionary criteria, 19 articles were reviewed. Results: Seventeen articles discussed varsity sport athletes; prevalence rates of eating disorders were found to be 0%-42%, while prevalence rates of disordered eating (pathological eating behaviors that do not meet full DSM-5 eating disorder criteria) were reported to be 6.5%-49.2%. Only 3 articles included club sport athletes; prevalence of eating disorders were 16%-33% and the disordered eating rate was reported to be 27%. Conclusion: This review, the first to include club sport female athletes, provides a current summary of the prevalence of eating disorders in female collegiate varsity athletes. However, a great deal of research is needed with regard to club sport female athletes; few studies currently exist in the literature that consider this topic in regards to club sport women, and prevalence rates are still relatively undetermined.




Black, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Public health

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