Prevention Across the Spectrum: a randomized controlled trial of three programs to reduce risk factors for both eating disorders and obesity

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Wilksch, Simon Mark
Paxton, Susan J
Byrne, Susan M
Austin, S Bryn
McLean, Sian A
Thompson, Kelly M
Dorairaj, Kavitha
Wade, Tracey Diane
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Cambridge University Press
Background: A randomized-controlled trial (RCT) of 3 school-based programs and a no intervention control group was conducted to evaluate their efficacy in reducing eating disorder and obesity risk factors. Methods: N = 1,316 Grade 7 and 8 girls and boys (M age = 13.21 years) across three Australian states were randomly allocated to: Media Smart; Life Smart; Helping, Encouraging, Listening and Protecting Peers Initiative (HELPP) or control (usual school class). Risk factors were measured at baseline, post-program (5-weeks later), and 6- and 12-month follow-up. Results: Media Smart girls had half the rate of onset of clinically significant concerns about shape and weight than control girls at 12-month follow-up. Media Smart and HELPP girls reported significantly lower weight and shape concern than Life Smart girls at 12-month follow-up. Media Smart and control girls scored significantly lower than HELPP girls on eating concerns and perceived pressure at 6-month follow-up. Media Smart and HELPP boys experienced significant benefit on media internalization compared to control boys and these were sustained at 12-month follow-up in Media Smart boys. A group x time effect found Media Smart participants reported more physical activity than control and HELPP participants at 6-month follow-up, while a main effect for group found Media Smart participants reported less screen time than controls. Conclusions: Media Smart was the only program to show benefit on both disordered eating and obesity risk factors. Whilst further investigations are indicated, this study suggests that this program is a promising approach to reducing risk factors for both problems.
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Wilksch, S.M., Paxton, S.J., Byrne, S., Austin, S.B., McLean, S.A., Thompson, K.M., Dorairaj, K., & Wade, T.D. (2015). Prevention Across the Spectrum: A randomized-controlled trial of three programs to reduce risk factors for both eating disorders and obesity. Psychological Medicine, 45, 1811-1823.