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Eating for Excellence: Eating Disorders in Elite Sport – Inevitability and ‘Immunity’

journal contribution
posted on 08.02.2018, 09:18 by Oli Williams
This research explores how and why the experience of being a (sub-/)elite sports performer manifests itself in dietary decisions. This is a novel contribution to the existing literature which has tended to focus either on attempts to develop the most effective nutritional practice to facilitate performance enhancement or to pathologise the current behaviour of performers from a narrow selection of sports in order to propose ‘cures’ for this behaviour. The argument of this paper is that (sub-/)elite sports performers are strongly affected by a ‘discourse of excellence’ and that it is this discourse which most significantly impacts their dietary decisions; causing them to ‘eat for excellence’. This is illustrated in part by the increased risk among some performers of developing pathological eating behaviours whilst competing. However, using data derived from qualitative interviews with eleven (sub-/)elite performers in the United Kingdom, the study makes an original contribution by exploring how and why being guided by the same discourse of excellence can lead others to develop ‘immunity’ to such disorders.



European Journal for Sport and Society, 2012, 9 (1-2), pp. 33-55

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/School of Medicine/Department of Health Sciences


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

European Journal for Sport and Society


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)





Publisher version


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