T. Grootwassink & A. Olson PhD, RD
College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN

Professional ballet dancers on average weigh 10 to 20% below ideal weight (1). The NCAA does not monitor collegiate dance teams, so body weight and nutritional practices of collegiate dancers is relatively unknown. Purpose: To determine if the collegiate dancers are considered at risk for developing an eating disorder and to assess nutritional misconceptions. Methods: 25 Division III female dance team members participated in the study. Approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) was obtained, and subjects completed an informed consent. Subjects were asked to complete an electronic survey that was distributed via email. The electronic survey included questions from the EAT-26 and a nutritional knowledge questionnaire. Subjects were asked to complete an ASA-24 electronic 24-hour recall. Correlations were analyzed using a bivariate correlation and unpaired t-test with Service Product for Statistical Solution (SPSS). Results: EAT-26 scores averaged 4.56 +/- 6.7 indicating a low risk for an eating disorder (n=25). Only one dancer indicated a high risk with an EAT-26 score of 31. There was a strong, though statistically insignificant, correlation between the EAT-26 score and nutritional knowledge (r=-0.307, p=0.068, n=25). Participants (n=25) scored, on average, 66% on the nutritional knowledge questionnaire; however, those who had taken a nutrition course scored significantly higher, 76% (t = 2.3695, p = 0.0266, df = 23). Only 17 dancers completed the ASA-24. Participants consumed 1747 +/- 630 kcals, including 61.5 +/- 26g protein, 70.7 +/- 34 g fat, and 216.7 +/- 71g carbohydrates, in a 24-hour period. Dancers consumed an inadequate amount of calcium (47%), vitamin C (71%), vitamin B6 (47%), iron (94%), and vitamin D (100%) (n = 17). Conclusion: while overall diets appeared to meet most RDA recommendations, intakes varied extremely and 41% failed to obtain at least 50% of the RDA for more than one nutrient. Improving nutritional knowledge and healthy food choices could decrease eating disorder risk in DIII collegiate dancers.

(1) Doyle-Lucas, A. F., & Davy, B. M. (2011). Development and evaluation of an education intervention program for pre-professional adolescent ballet dancers: Nutrition for optimal performance. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 15(2), 65-75.

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