Disordered Eating and Body Image in Elite Male Rugby Union Players During Pre-Season Training
Background: Disordered eating is detrimental to health and athletic performance. There are few studies examining disordered eating and body image in elite male athletes, particularly those competing in team sports. As a result the prevalence of disordered eating and poor body image is not well understood in this population and understanding of these issues is required.Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of disordered eating and poor body image in professional male rugby union players during their pre-season training.Design: Observational, cross-sectional study designMethods: During the initial days of pre-season training, November-December 2014, twenty-six elite male rugby union players completed a forty-nine item questionnaire on disordered eating and body image and twenty-two completed a three-day diet record. The participants had been divided into three groups, ‘weight loss’, ‘weight maintenance’ and ‘weight gain’, depending on their body composition goals previously assigned by their coaches.Results: Disordered eating behaviours were found in 88% of the participants, with reported instances of excessive exercise to control body weight, food avoidance, binge eating and laxative abuse. Body image scores varied from 3 to 41 out of a possible 0–72. Scores under twenty indicated positive body image while higher scores indicated greater body image dissatisfaction. The body composition groups were not significantly different in the prevalence of disordered eating or body image scores, p>0.05.Conclusion: During their pre-season training period, the majority of male rugby union players reported at least one disordered eating behaviour. Body image ranged widely but poor body image was common. Disordered eating behaviours need to be minimised due to the impact on health and performance. More research is required to assess if the results are generalisable across all rugby union players and the health implications of these behaviours.
Advisor: Black, Katherine; Brown, Rachel; Cooke, Rebecca
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Body Image; Disordered Eating; Elite Athletes; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis