The Use of Behavior-Change Theory in the Prevention of Body Image and Eating Disorders

[Speaker] Rodgers, Rachel:1
1:Northeastern University (United States of America)

While diagnosable eating disorders are rare, subclinical and highly impairing disordered eating behaviors are prevalent, particularly among young women, and may result from the focus on slenderness in Western society. Such disordered eating behaviors, and other appearance-modifying behaviors including tanning or excessive exercise pose an important health-risk. Their effective prevention is thus a major challenge in westernized countries. Accumulating research over the last two decades has shown that theory-guided interventions are the most effective preventive strategies. In particular, interventions grounded in social cognitive theory, cognitive behavioral theory, and dissonance theory have been shown to be efficacious in changing attitudes and health-related behaviors. The theoretical underpinnings and mechanisms of action of interventions based in these frameworks will be described and illustrative examples of empirically supported programs grounded in each of these theories will be presented. Implications for both the field of eating disorders and the broader sociocultural context will be explored.
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