Effects of an energy balance educational intervention and the COPE cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for Division I U.S. Air Force Academy female athletes

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Background and purpose:Female athletes struggle harder than male athletes to lose body fat and maintain a leaner physique. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an educational and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based intervention on knowledge, body composition, anxiety, stress, and nutritional intake.Methods:A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 153 female athletes from the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). Participants were assigned to one of three groups: (a) a combined energy balance and CBT-based intervention (E1); (b) a CBT-based intervention alone (E2); and (c) a control group (C). Main outcomes included a DXA scan for body composition, a knowledge test, the GAD-7 for anxiety, the brief inventory of perceived stress (BIPS) for stress, and a 24-h food recall.Findings:Significant improvement on knowledge of energy balance occurred in all three groups E1 (p < .001), E2, and C (p < .05). Significant reductions in percentage of body fat occurred in E1 (p < .001) and E2 (p < .05). There also were significant reductions in the percent of fat consumed by E1 (p < .05) and saturated fat consumed by both E1 and E2 (p < .05). The control group only demonstrated a significant increase in stress as measured by the BIPS (p < .05).Conclusions:A combined energy balance and CBT-based intervention improves knowledge and body fat.Implications:The importance to assess knowledge, anxiety, stress, nutrition intake, and percentage of body fat in female athletes and to deliver evidence-based interventions to improve their health outcomes.

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