"Happy Being Me" in Britain: The evaluation of a school-based disordered eating and negative body image intervention with pre-adolescent girls and boys
Diedrichs, P. C., Bird, E. and Halliwell, E. (2012) "Happy Being Me" in Britain: The evaluation of a school-based disordered eating and negative body image intervention with pre-adolescent girls and boys. In: International Conference on Eating Disorders, Austin, Texas, USA, 3rd - 5th May, 2012. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/16875
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There is emerging evidence that disordered eating and negative body image can affect pre-adolescent girls and boys. As a result, researchers and clinicians have called for an increased focus on early intervention and prevention. Further, the British government has recently advocated for the inclusion of body image lessons in primary schools. Historically, however, research into disordered eating and negative body image interventions has focused on girls in mid-late adolescence. To address this gap, we adapted and evaluated the impact of a school-based body image intervention, ‘Happy Being Me’ (Richardson & Paxton, 2010), with girls and boys aged 10-11 years from two primary schools in the South-West of England. The intervention consisted of three interactive sessions, with activities that targeted specific risk factors for disordered eating and negative body image. 43 children were assigned to the intervention condition and 45 were assigned to the control condition. Emotional and restrained eating, body dissatisfaction, internalization of cultural beauty ideals, appearance comparisons and conversations, appearance-related teasing, and self-esteem were measured pre- and post-intervention, and at three months follow-up. For girls, participation in the intervention resulted in significant reductions in emotional and restrained eating, body dissatisfaction, and appearance-related conversations and comparison at postintervention, although only improvements in internalization were sustained at three month follow-up. For boys, participants in the intervention condition reported significant reductions in internalization and appearance conversations, however, again these changes were not maintained at three months follow-up. There were no significant improvements observed in the control condition over time. These findings suggest that more work in this area is needed and that there is significant scope for improving, developing and evaluating disordered eating and body image interventions for preadolescents.