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Improvement of Body Image Flexibility in Adolescent Female Athletes Undergoing Education about Nutrition and Body Image

Author(s): Kathryn Vidlock, Catherine Liggett, Nicole Oberlag

Methods: A pre-post study was done measuring body image flexibility in adolescent female athletes. Athletes, aged 14-18, participated in educational sessions about nutrition, body image flexibility, and RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport). Body image flexibility was measured by the BI-AAQ (Body Image - Acceptance and Action Questionnaire).

Results: Increases were shown in all teams and overall. Specifically, mean BI-AAQ scores from 45.2 to 57.2 or difference of 12.0 (p-value <0.01). The cheer team showed an increase of the mean scores from 42.3 to 52.0 or difference of 9.7 (p-value 0.033). Overall scores improved from 43.6 to 54.1 or difference of 10.4 (p-value <0.01). Individual questions results shows that the cross country/track team had significant improvement in 8 of the 12 questions and the cheer team had significant improvement in 4 of the 12 questions.

Discussion: This pre-post study examined the efficacy of three educational sessions during the athletic season. The positive outcomes in the short educational sessions suggest that starting education early may help with the mindset of positive body image flexibility at least short term.

Conclusion: There was statistically significant short-term increase in body image flexibility in adolescent female athletes with education about body image, performance, and nutrition. Registration Clinicaltrial.gov # NCT05222360

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