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Int J Eat Disord. 1997 Sep;22(2):167-72.

Primary prevention of eating disorders: might it do more harm than good?

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1
Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University, Warneford Hospital, United Kingdom.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate a new school-based eating disorder prevention program designed to reduce dietary restraint.

METHOD:

Forty-six school-girls, aged 13-14 years, took part. The intervention consisted of eight weekly sessions of 45 min duration. A battery of self-report questionnaires was administered before and after the intervention and 6 months later.

RESULTS:

Unlike previous prevention studies, there was not only an increase in knowledge at postintervention but there was also a decrease in target behavior and attitudes. However, these effects were short-lived since they had disappeared 6 months later: indeed, at 6-month follow-up there was an increase in dietary restraint compared with baseline.

DISCUSSION:

These findings suggest that the intervention had been counterproductive since it led to an increase in dietary restraint. They imply that school-based prevention programs may do more harm than good.

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