This study will evaluate the effectiveness of dissonance-based eating disorder prevention
programs in reducing body dissatisfaction among young women with body image concerns.
It is estimated that up to 80% of young adult women in the United States are dissatisfied
with their appearance, particularly their weight. Young women's perception of the ideal body
type is influenced by many factors, including peers, parents, and the media. Body
dissatisfaction is associated with an increased risk of depression and eating disorders,
making programs to reduce body image issues in young women important. Programs that target
eating disorder prevention through promoting healthy behaviors and critiquing the thin ideal
may be an effective means of increasing body satisfaction among young women. Particularly, a
dissonance-based eating disorder prevention program that assesses the thin ideal through
verbal, written, and behavioral exercises may be the best means of addressing body image
concerns. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of dissonance-based eating disorder
prevention programs in reducing body dissatisfaction among young women with body image
Participation in this study will last 2 years and will involve both parent and daughter
participants. Study participation for parent participants will include three 15-minute
interviews conducted at baseline and Years 1 and 2. The interviews will focus on their
daughters' social adjustment, performance in school, relationships with others, hobbies, and
related topics. Daughter participants will still be allowed to partake in the study even if
their parents do not complete all three interviews.
All potential daughter participants will first complete a 20-minute interview regarding
their eating habits and mental health. Eligible participants will then be assigned to one of
three programs designed to improve body image satisfaction:
- Program 1 will consist of the distribution of an educational brochure about a healthy
- Program 2 will involve four 1-hour meetings during which participants will complete a
series of verbal and written exercises. The exercises will aim to increase body image
satisfaction by helping participants to think critically about the thin ideal and to
discuss some of the problems associated with the pursuit of this ideal.
- Program 3 will include eight 1-hour meetings during which participants will also
complete a series of verbal and written exercises. The exercises will aim to increase
body image satisfaction by helping participants to think critically about the thin
ideal and by promoting healthy eating and exercise habits.
Participants in all programs will complete brief surveys and interviews about their
attitudes and behaviors at baseline, at treatment completion, and at three other points
during the 2 years from baseline.
- Self-reported body image concerns
- Meets diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM-IV) criteria for anorexia nervosa,
bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder