Female athletes are known to be at a greater risk of suffering from disordered eating attitudes and behaviour. It is thought that up to 2% of female athletes have anorexia and 6% have bulimia compared to 0.9% and 1.5% respectively of the general population. Researchers from the University of North Texas, the University of Utah and the Center for Balanced Living in Ohio studied 204 female college athletes in an attempt to find the psychological factors behind eating disorders in athletes. They found that 27.5% of the sample showed at least some symptoms of disordered eating. There was no difference between the girls with and without eating disorders in terms of perfectionism or optimism and both groups were as motivated as each other to exercise for fitness and health. However, the girls with disordered eating were more likely to have low self esteem and to exercise to improve their mood and their appearance.
Petrie, Trent A. ... [et al] - Personality and psychological factors as predictors of disordered eating among female collegiate athletes Eating Disorders July-September 2009, 17(4), 302-321