Eating attitudes and body image concerns among female athletes from aesthetic sports

  • Aleksandra Aleksić Veljković Faculty of Sport and Physical Education
  • Dušanka Đurović Department of Psychology, Educons University
  • Filip Biro
  • Katarina Stojanović Department of Psychology, University of Niš
  • Predrag Ilić Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Niš
Keywords: Aesthetic Sports, eating disorders, Figure Rating Scale, Body Shape Questionnaire, Eating Attitudes Test


Purpose: Research has suggested that in female athletes from aesthetic sports the prevalence of disordered eating attitudes is higher than in female athletes from other sports, mainly due to sport related factors like extreme training and practicing sports associated with high pressure and the idea that “being thin leads to success”. The study was conducted to examine the prevalence of disturbed eating attitudes and their relationship with body image concerns in aesthetic and non-aesthetic female athletes.

Methods: 54 female athletes from aesthetic sports (synchronized swimming, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, and dance), as well as 66 female athletes from non-aesthetic sports (volleyball, track and field, and soccer), completed the Eating Attitudes Test, the Body Shape Questionnaire, and the Figure Rating Scale (a visual scale used to assess body image dissatisfaction and body image dissatisfaction in relation to sport).

Results: The results indicated that aesthetic athletes scored significantly higher than those involved in non-aesthetic sports in Dieting, and in Body Image Dissatisfaction. Moreover, aesthetic athletes demonstrated significantly lower BMI mean scores. Significant correlations were found between Body Mass Index and Oral Control, Body Image Dissatisfaction and Body Image Dissatisfaction in relation to Sport, and between Eating Attitudes Test and the Body Shape Questionnaire results in aesthetic athletes. Furthermore, significant associations were found between Body Mass Index and Body Shape Questionnaire, Body Image Dissatisfaction and Body Image Dissatisfaction in relation to Sport, and Eating Attitudes Test and Body Shape Questionnaire in non-aesthetic athletes.

Conclusion: The study confirmed the relationship between body image concerns and pathological eating attitudes among female aesthetic sport athletes.


Ahrberg, M., Trojca, D., Nasrawi, N., & Vocks, S. (2011). Body image disturbance in binge eating disorder: a review. European Eating Disorders Review, 19(5), 375-381.

Arcelus, J., Witcomb, G. L., & Mitchell, A. (2014). Prevalence of eating disorders amongst dancers: a systemic review and meta‐analysis. European Eating Disorders Review, 22(2), 92-101.

Arthur-Cameselle, J., Sossin, K., & Quatromoni, P. (2017). A qualitative analysis of factors related to eating disorder onset in female collegiate athletes and non-athletes. Eating Disorders, 25(3), 199-215.

Bratland-Sanda, S., & Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2013). Eating disorders in athletes: overview of prevalence, risk factors and recommendations for prevention and treatment. European Journal of Sport Science, 13(5), 499-508.

Chizawsky, L. L., & Newton, M. S. (2006). Identification and treatment in obstetrical patients. AWHONN lifelines, 10(6), 483-488.

Coelho, G. M., da Silva Gomes, A. I., Ribeiro, B. G., & de Abreu Soares, E. (2014). Prevention of eating disorders in female athletes. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 5, 105-113.

Cordás, T. A., & Castilho, S. (1994). Imagem corporal nos transtornos alimentares: instrumento de avaliação: Body Shape Questionnaire. Psiquiatria biológica, 2(1), 17-21.

Currie, A. (2010). Sport and eating disorders-understanding and managing the risks. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 1(2), 63-68.

de Bruin, A. K., Woertman, L., Bakker, F. C., & Oudejans, R. R. (2009). Weight-related sport motives and girls’ body image, weight control behaviors, and self-esteem. Sex Roles, 60(9-10), 628-641.

de Bruin, A. P. (2010). Thin is going to win? Disordered eating in sport. PhD Thesis. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Retrieved from

Doughty, J. H., & Hausenblas, H. A. (2005). A longitudinal examination of disordered eating correlates in collegiate gymnasts. Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal, 14(1), 52-61.

Flament, M. F., Bissada, H., & Spettigue, W. (2012). Evidence-based pharmacotherapy of eating disorders. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 15(2), 189-207.

Francisco, R., Narciso, I., & Alarcao, M. (2013). Individual and relational risk factors for the development of eating disorders in adolescent aesthetic athletes and general adolescents. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 18(4), 403-411.

Garner, D. M., & Garfinkel, P. E. (Eds.). (1997). Handbook of treatment for eating disorders. New York; London: Guilford Press.

Giel, K. E., Hermann‐Werner, A., Mayer, J., Diehl, K., Schneider, S., Thiel, A., ... & GOAL Study Group. (2016). Eating disorder pathology in elite adolescent athletes. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 49(6), 553-562.

Greenleaf, C., Petrie, T. A., Carter, J., & Reel, J. J. (2009). Female collegiate athletes: Prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 57(5), 489-496.

Harriger, J. A. (2009). Risk and protective factors in women's artistic gymnastics: The relationship to disordered eating and negative body image. ProQuest Dissertation. The University of New Mexico. Retrieved from: /304947933?pqorigsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true

Maya, M., & Moria, G. (2018). Prevalence of Disordered eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction among Israeli adolescent female aesthetic athletes. EC Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 37-46.

Perini, T. A., Vieira, R. S., Vigário, P. D. S., Oliveira, G. L. D., Ornellas, J. D. S., & Oliveira, F. P. D. (2009). Eating disorders in elite synchronized swimmers. Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte, 15(1), 54-57.

Petrie, T. A. (1993). Disordered eating in female collegiate gymnasts: Prevalence and personality/attitudinal correlates. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 15(4), 424-436.

Ravaldi, C., Vannacci, A., Zucchi, T., Mannucci, E., Cabras, P. L., Boldrini, M., ... & Ricca, V. (2003). Eating disorders and body image disturbances among ballet dancers, gymnasium users and body builders. Psychopathology, 36(5), 247-254.

Sarwer, D. B., Thompson, J. K., & Cash, T. F. (2005). Body image and obesity in adulthood. Psychiatric Clinics, 28(1), 69-87.

Stunkard, A. J., Sørensen, T. I., & Schlusinger, F. (1983). Use of the Danish Adoption Register for the study of obesity and thinness. In S. S. Kety, L. P. Rowland, R. L. Sidman, & S. W. Matthysse (Eds.), The genetics of neurological and psychiatric disorders. New York, NY: Raven Press, pp. 115– 120.

Sundgot‐Borgen, J., & Torstveit, M. K. (2010). Aspects of disordered eating continuum in elite high‐intensity sports. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20(2), 112-121.

Sundgot-Borgen, J. (1994). Risk and trigger factors for the development of eating disorders in female elite athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 26(4), 414–419.

Torstveit, M. K., & Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2005). The female athlete triad: are elite athletes at increased risk? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37(2), 184-193.

Ziegler, P. J., Khoo, C. S., Sherr, B., Nelson, J. A., Larson, W. M., & Drewnowski, A. (1998). Body image and dieting behaviors among elite figure skaters. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 24(4), 421-427.<421::AID-EAT9>3.0.CO;2-H

Zullig, K. J., Matthews-Ewald, M. R., & Valois, R. F. (2016). Weight perceptions, disordered eating behaviors, and emotional self-efficacy among high school adolescents. Eating behaviors, 21, 1-6.

How to Cite
Aleksić Veljković, A., Đurović, D., Biro, F., Stojanović, K., & Ilić, P. (2020). Eating attitudes and body image concerns among female athletes from aesthetic sports . Annales Kinesiologiae, 11(1), 3-16.