Past research has examined eating disorder risk among college students majoring in Nutrition and has suggested an increased risk, while other studies contradict these results. Exercise Science majors, however, have yet to be fully examined regarding their risk for eating disorders and exercise dependence. Based on pressures to fit the image associated with careers related to these two disciplines, research is warranted to examine the potential risk for both eating disorder and exercise dependence. The purpose of this study is to compare eating disorder risk, exercise dependence, and body weight dissatisfaction (BWD) between Nutrition and Exercise Science majors, compared to students outside of these career pathways.
Participants (n = 89) were divided into three groups based on major; Nutrition majors (NUTR; n = 31), Exercise Science majors (EXSC; n = 30), and other majors (CON; n = 28). Participants were given the EAT-26 questionnaire and the Exercise Dependence Scale. BWD was calculated as the discrepancy between actual BMI and ideal BMI.
The majority of participants expressed a desire to weigh less (83%) and EXSC had significantly (p = .03) greater BWD than NUTR. However, there were no significant differences in eating disorder risk or exercise dependence among majors
Discussion and Conclusions
This study suggested there was no significant difference in eating disorder risk or exercise dependence between the three groups (NUTR, EXSC, and CON).