Bird, E. , Halliwell, E. and Diedrichs, P. C.
‘Happy Being Me’ in the UK: A controlled evaluation of a school-based body image intervention with pre-adolescent children.
South West Public Health Scientific Conference, Weston-super-Mare, UK, 1st February, 2012.
Body image concerns among children are commonly associated with the onset of severe health-related implications including reduced physical activity, unhealthy eating behaviours, and low self-esteem, among others. Historically, attempts to address these issues have been developed for, and conducted with, adolescent girls alone. However given the increase in evidence for the onset of negative body image in pre-adolescent boys as well as girls, and if these damaging and costly health problems are to be addressed; early intervention that aims to prevent the onset of negative body image in children, is an important public health priority.
In response to the dearth of research investigating the efficacy of body image interventions with a mixed, pre-adolescent cohort; this novel study aimed to evaluate an adapted version of ‘Happy Being Me’, a school-based body image intervention for pre-adolescent girls and boys.
Forty-three 10-11 year olds participated in a three-week, school-based intervention programme (45 in control group), completing measures on risk factors for negative body image, eating behaviours and self-esteem at baseline, post-intervention and three month follow-up. The intervention focused on educating children about the negative consequences associated with internalisation of the thin-ideal, appearance-related teasing, appearance-related conversations and body comparison. The programme also targeted self-esteem and unhealthy eating behaviours.
For girls, participants in the intervention condition reported significant improvements in risk factors for negative body image, eating behaviours and intervention topic knowledge at post-intervention, although changes were not all sustained at three month follow-up. For boys, participants in the intervention condition reported significant improvements in risk factors for negative body image at post-intervention, but were not maintained.
The findings indicate that this adapted school-based intervention, facilitated with a mixed sex, pre-adolescent cohort may have the potential to address the ever-increasing body image concerns observed among young people across the UK.
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