Eating Disorders Among Athletes

Richard O’Connor emphasizes three distinctive dispositions that predispose children to anorexia later in life: a performative disposition, an ascetic disposition, and a virtuous disposition. (280) While students entering Davidson, or any college, are well out of adolescence, these dispositions are extremely evident among college athletes especially. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91% of women surveyed on college campuses reported that they had attempted to control their weight. Furthermore, studies found that eating disorders are significantly more common among female athletes compared to female control groups. It seems as though almost every aspect of a Davidson College athlete’s life directly correlates with one of the above mentioned characteristics. For example, a performative disposition is obvious given the competitive nature of any athletic program, an ascetic disposition also coincides with the discipline and toughness necessary for competition, and a virtuous disposition is directly related to Davidson’s emphasis on integrity, academic and otherwise, evidenced through the honor code. Is it possible that student athletes are thrust into disordered tendencies because of the types of ¬†college environments that seem to promote thoughts and behaviors ¬†conducive for developing eating disorders?