Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Heidi Wengreen


Obesity and eating disorders are major public health problems in the U.S. Prevention of these problems in childhood and adolescence is crucial to avoid medical complications and costs associated with these conditions. A growing body of research supports designing and implementing interventions to prevent obesity and eating disorders simultaneously by targeting common risk factors such as poor body image. This study explored the use of a body image education unit as a preventive measure for obesity and eating disorders. Ninth-grade students attending health class in a public school in Northern Utah (n = 117) were assigned to either an intervention or control group. At the end of a 3-week nutrition unit, the intervention group received a 3-day intervention designed to promote body image. Participants were surveyed at baseline, immediately following the nutrition unit and intervention, and at a 2-month follow-up. At post-test and follow-up, participants in the intervention group and the control group both self-reported improved body image and dietary practices. Modest improvements were seen in both the intervention and control groups. The intervention group did not have any advantage over the control group. It is recommended that future interventions be of greater intensity and longer duration in order to assess use of body image education to improve body image and dietary constructs. Interventions will have the greatest effect sizes if they target high risk individuals. Universal interventions targeting entire schools and communities are also recommended to help change environmental risk factors and reduce risk in those who may be at high risk but would not be included in a high risk grouping for a targeted intervention.




This work made publicly available electronically on October 1, 2010.