Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lefler, Honors Thesis Advisor


Both clinical and subclinical eating disorders (ED) are marked by body image disturbance and preoccupation with food, weight, and body shape, and lead to harmful weight management behaviors if not prevented or treated (Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2013). While there is a multitude of risk factors that influence the likelihood of developing an ED, one particular factor that has garnered significant attention recently is participation in athletics. Studies show that while athletics can build self-esteem and promote overall well-being,there is evidence that athletes are at an elevated risk for ED development (Hinton & Kubas, 2005). Researchers suggest this risk can be attributed to pressure from coaches, increased awareness of their body concerning competitive performance, and pressure to achieve success (Sanford-Martens et al., 2005). Weight-sensitive sports such as aesthetic, weight-class, and gravitational sports place marked emphasis on the athlete’s shape and weight and further exacerbate risk. Because of the high rates of clinical and subclinical EDs in athletes, prevention programs aimed at them are critical. Eating disorder prevention programs were designed to identify, understand, and ultimately reduce risk factors associated with the development of clinical and subclinical EDs. Researchers assert that if established risk factors are reduced, occurrences of problematic eating pathology should follow suit. This thesis explored common ED prevention programs and those modified to meet the unique needs of athletes, as well as made recommendations for future research. Even in the absence of a clinical diagnosis, EDs have lasting effects on mental and physical health; prevention and early identification are key to effectively reducing pathology and keeping people safe and healthy.

Year of Submission



Department of Psychology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (31 pages)



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