Athletes Embodied Research


Participation in organized sport comes with a range of benefits for adolescents. However, fewer Canadian youth are participating in sport and continually we see participation rates that are much lower for girls than boys. Many factors contribute to sport participation. One identified barrier that contributes disengagement in sport or sport drop out is the pressure around appearance, body shape, size, and weight, particularly among girls who face pressures of balancing a physique that aesthetically meets societal ideals but functionally allows for optimal sport performance.

Since sociocultural pressures around the body are key predictors of disordered eating, researchers have identified that body image promotion and eating disorder prevention programing for athletes as critical. Of the very few sport-specific body image and disordered eating interventions, most have focused on emerging adults or collegiate athletes rather than adolescents. In light of this, researchers and non-profit organizations have declared an urgent need for comprehensive and inclusive sport-specific interventions that demonstrate long-term reduction in body image concerns.

The Athletes Embodied project is a proud partnership with NEDIC and Canadian researchers. Together, we will work together to offer a solution to this identified need and develop an accessible evidence-based body image program to be shared within youth sport organizations across the country.  

The development of a sport-specific disordered eating prevention program

Athletes Embodied is an evidence-based approach to creating positive and healthy sport experiences in youth. Informed by current research and designed by body image experts, this work aims to foster healthy body image and prevent disordered eating in girls. The Athletes Embodied project is offered by NEDIC and in partnership with Canadian researchers.

Research Process

In 2020, NEDIC partnered with Western University researchers Eva Pila, PhD, and University of Toronto researcher Cathi Sabiston, PhD, to co-develop an evidence-based body image program for adolescent girls in sport. The study included a systematic review of empirical body image interventions that have been tested in athletes, where the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions were evaluated, and critical program components identified.

            In the Fall of 2020, four Athletes Embodied focus groups were virtually held and involved Canadian sport-based stakeholders. More than ten stakeholders participated in the groups, which were led by a graduate student trainee and NEDIC supervisor. Participants responded to a series of questions regarding the preliminary efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of our findings from the systematic review. Qualitative findings indicate that sport stakeholders XXX. Athletes also expressed XXX.

Interactive component?

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Review the literature
  3. Clarify the problem
  4. Clearly define terms and concepts
  5. Define the population
  6. Develop the instrumentation plan
  7. Collect data
  8. Analyze the data