Life in Balance

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Medical Xpress: School Body Image Lessons Improve Teen Body Esteem

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Researchers set out to test the effectiveness of an intervention called Me, You & Us. 16 classes of adolescent girls from three different schools were recruited to participate in the study. 261 of the pupils were in the intervention group and received six, 50-minute body image lessons delivered by their school teachers.

Lessons focused on media literacy (where ideals of beauty come from and critically analysing media images), peer interactions (concerning ‘fat talking’ – discussions about weight and shape, and activities on giving and receiving compliments) and positive psychology principles (including boosting mood and self-esteem). The other 187 pupils received their lessons as normal, and acted as the control group.

A week before the trial began, all pupils completed questionnaires to gather information about their age and ethnicity, and to screen for the presence of eating  including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Their body esteem was assessed before the intervention began, after the intervention had finished and at a three-month follow-up.

The researchers found that receiving the lessons had a significant positive effect on the girls’ body esteem, and this effect was maintained over the three months of follow-up. At the start of the study, 17% of pupils in the intervention group and 19% of pupils in the control group were in the clinical range for body esteem.

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