Body image, anthropometric measures, and eating-disorder prevalence in auxiliary unit members

Toni M. Torres-McGehee, James M. Green, James D. Leeper, Deidre Leaver-Dunn, Mark Richardson, Phillip A. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Context: Medical professionals have recognized eating disorders and related problems in competitive athletes. Auxiliary members (color guard, dance, majorettes) experience the same appearance-related pressures observed in sports commonly associated with eating disorders. Objective: To estimate eating-disorder prevalence based on associated eating-disorder characteristics and behaviors in female auxiliary members and to compare perceived and ideal body images and anthropometric measurements between atrisk and not-at-risk participants for eating-disorder characteristics and behaviors. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting: Three universities in the southeastern United States. Patients or Other Participants: Participants (n = 5 101, mean age = 5 19.2 ± 6 1.2 years) represented 3 auxiliary units, including color guard (n = 535), dance line (n = 547), and majorettes (n = 5 19). Main Outcome Measure(s): Participants self-reported menstrual history, height, and weight. Anthropometric measurements included height, weight, body fat percentage, and waist and hip circumferences. We screened for eating-disorder risk behavior with the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT)-26 and for body dissatisfaction with the Figural Stimuli Survey. Results: Based on the EAT-26, we estimated eatingdisorder prevalence among members to measure 29.7% (95% confidence interval = 5 20.8%, 38.6%). The EAT-26 results revealed that 21% of participants used purgatives and 14% vomited to control weight or shape. The at-risk group had higher scores on the EAT-26 total (P ≤ .01) and on the dieting (P ≤ .01), oral control (P = .02), and bulimia (P = .01) subscales. Hip circumference (P = .01), self-reported weight (P = .03), measured weight (P = .04), difference between measured and preferred weights (P = .02), and calculated target weight (P = .02) were different between the at-risk and not-at-risk groups. Conclusions: Collegiate auxiliary unit members may have an unacceptable prevalence of eating disorders. Our results validate concerns that auxiliary members may exhibit an unacceptable eating-disorder risk, highlighting the need to examine and address unhealthy weight-management behaviors independent of eating-disorder status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-426
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Athletes
  • Body image
  • Dancers
  • EAT-26


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