A preliminary survey of dieting, body dissatisfaction, and eating problems among high school cheerleaders

Sharon H. Thompson, Sohailla Digsby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Cheerleading, a staple of American schools, has received little attention in scholarly research. This sport is considered "high risk" for development of eating disorders; therefore, female, high school cheerleaders (n = 156, mean age = 15.43 years) from the southeastern region were surveyed in this preliminary study to determine rates of dieting, body dissatisfaction, and eating problems. Almost one-half of the girls (46%) indicated they were currently trying to lose weight. Body dissatisfaction was significant by race [χ2 (2, n = 153) = 9.270, p = .010] and was reported by 50% and 73.5% of Black and White girls, respectively. About 13% of girls had EAT-26 scores of 20 or higher (possible eating problems). On the Orientation to Exercise Questionnaire, a measure of subclinical eating disorders, those with eating problems (EAT-26 score of ≥ 20) had significantly higher scores (M = 87.65, p = .0002) than those without problems (M = 76.05). Furthermore, scores increased by 69% for each unit increase in BMI (p = .0481, slope = +.6902). The cheerleaders did not appear at higher risk for eating problems than adolescent girls in general, but this age group is considered at "high risk" for eating disorders, so those who work with cheerleaders should be aware of warning signs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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