Our Impact

By partnering with sport organizations and leaders in disordered eating prevention, we aim to build safe and healthy sport environments for girls in youth sport.

Who are we?

Athletes Embodied is designed by leaders in the field of body image, sport and mental health in Canada. This collaboration allows the project to prioritize quality and safety as sport organizations, coaches, athletes, and parents look to have conversations about these topics

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is a registered Canadian charity that has been helping Canadians affected by eating disorders since 1985. We operate Canada’s national toll-free helpline and instant chat program which provides support, information, and referrals to individuals struggling with food and weight preoccupation issues, as well as the families, friends, and professionals who care for them. With a focus on eating disorder risk factors, NEDIC delivers prevention-focused workshops to diverse audiences and facilitates professional development through our outreach and education program.

The Body Image and Health Research Lab

Directed by Dr. Eva Pila, and is part of the School of Kinesiology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University in Ontario, Canada. Founded in psychological perspectives in Kinesiology, this lab focuses on understanding body image and body (in)equity as it relates to movement, mental health and well-being. A main goal of this research is to develop psychological interventions, currently centred on self-compassion, to promote the health and well-being of individuals living in marginalized bodies.

Health Behaviour and Emotion Lab

Directed by Dr. Cathi Sabiston, and is part of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. This lab focuses on psychosocial factors in physical activity and sport contexts. Their research foci include the influences of motivation, self-conscious emotions, stress, affect, and social support on physical activity, youth and adolescent sport involvement, and emotional well-being.

What have we done?

Successfully received a SSHRC Partnership Engage grant to:

  • Conduct a systematic review of body image interventions that have been tested with athletes to try and answer the following questions:
  1. How can we help mitigate the pressures around body shape, size and appearance that greatly impact young girls?
  2. How can we advance sport-specific body image promotion and eating disorder prevention strategies?
  • Outline components of a meaningful and effective sport-focused program around body image and disordered eating.
  • Facilitate focus groups to hear direct feedback from national and provincial organizations supporting youth sport, and from people coaching or participating in a vast array of sports, including athletics, basketball, cheerleading, cross-country skiing, dance, diving, field hockey, gymnastics, hockey, karate, ringette, soccer, skating, swimming, tennis, and volleyball.

Athletes Embodied, produced in partnership with research completed by Western University and University of Toronto, currently provides actionable, evidence-based guidelines and resources that address body image challenges in sport, with a specific focus on the target groups of girls ages 11-16.

This study included a systematic review of empirical body image interventions. These have been tested in athletes where the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions were evaluated, and critical program components were identified.

Throughout this process, we listened to direct feedback from people engaging in a vast array of sports, including athletics, basketball, hockey, gymnastics

Where are we headed?

We are currently working to develop an online toolkit for coaches, athletes, and parents that will form the basis of the Athletes Embodied program.

Partner with dedicated sport organizations to align with ongoing initiatives (Safesport, mental health promotion) and implement a train-the-trainer model to disseminate the program to adolescent girls

Conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of the program

Research process

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  1. Gather information on previous programs and research.
  2. Conduct a scoping review of existing resources and programs.
  3. Interview sport stakeholders in focus groups.
  4. Work through the development of a body image promotion and eating disorder prevention program guidelines.
  5. Development of the Athletes Embodied toolkit and resources for coaches and sport organizations.

The next steps for Athletes Embodied…