Participation in sports is generally thought to improve self-esteem and promote a healthy body image. But according to a recent study, undergraduate women who participate in sports and exercise regularly are actually more likely to exhibit eating disorder behaviors than women who don't. The problem is even more pronounced among women who participate in the more prestigious levels of athletic competition (for example, a top female soccer player is more more likely to have an eating disorder than someone who plays Ultimate Frisbee with her friends on the weekend): Researchers say that women who experience higher anxiety about their athletic performance are even more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies and suffer from eating disorders.The International Journal of Eating Disorders study was conducted with 274 female students at a large southeastern university and compared the eating-related behaviors and attitudes of varsity athletes, club athletes, independent exercisers, and non-exercisers. Researchers are recommending that university coaches and athletic departments consider prevention and monitoring programs for female athletes and exercisers at universities. "As women's participation in athletics increases, so too does the need for awareness of the link between eating disorders and sports participation among women," says Jill Holm-Denoma of the University of Denver, lead author of the study. Eating Disorder Symptoms More Common Among Female Athletes And Exercisers [EurekAlert]