Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

School-based Overweight Prevention Program May Cut Risk Of Eating Disorders Among Girls

Date:
September 6, 2007
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
Researchers set out to determine if an obesity prevention program called 5-2-1-Go! could reduce the risk of eating disorder symptoms and harmful weight-control behaviors in adolescents. The study showed that almost 4 percent of middle-school girls receiving only their regular health education began vomiting or abusing laxatives or diet pills, but just 1 percent of the girls in the 5-2-1-Go! program did so.

Eating disorders among adolescent girls and boys can have substantial negative impact on their health and lead to dangerous weight-control behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or abusing laxatives or diet pills to control weight. The middle school age is a high risk time, especially for girls starting to engage in these dangerous weight-control behaviors that affect millions of Americans.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) set out to determine if an obesity prevention program called 5-2-1-Go! could reduce the risk of eating disorder symptoms and harmful weight-control behaviors in adolescents. The study showed that almost 4% of middle-school girls receiving only their regular health education began vomiting or abusing laxatives or diet pills, but just 1% of the girls in the 5-2-1-Go! program did so. The results showed no effect of the program on middle-school boys. The study appears in the September 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"We are very encouraged by the results," said S. Bryn Austin, assistant professor at HSPH and a researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston. "We are hopeful that carefully designed health promotion programs like this one may help us prevent both eating disorders and overweight at the same time. The protective effect that we found was strong and held up under two rigorously designed studies," she said.

The 5-2-1-Go! program (eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day, and get at least 1 hour of physical activity daily) includes the Planet Health curriculum, which was developed by HSPH researchers. It emphasizes eating a balanced diet, staying physically active and reducing the amount of time spent watching television. A previous study of the Planet Health curriculum had shown a protective effect on disordered weight-control behaviors in girls. The researchers wanted to see if that beneficial effect could be repeated in a larger study among a different group of schools.

The randomized, controlled study took place in 13 middle schools in Massachusetts between 2002 and 2004 and involved 1,451 sixth- and seventh-graders (749 girls, 702 boys). Six schools utilized the 5-2-1-Go! curriculum and seven utilized just their regular health education. The results showed a two-thirds reduction in risk of adopting disordered weight control behaviors among girls in the 5-2-1-Go! program.

The results suggest that it may be possible for school-based programs to help prevent obesity and eating disorder symptoms in adolescent girls. "Unhealthy weight loss behaviors and overweight are taking an enormous toll on the health of young people today," said senior author Karen E. Peterson, director of the Program in Public Health Nutrition at HSPH and an associate professor at the School. "These problems may be linked in a number of ways, and the solutions are likely to be too. Approaches that foster healthy weights by changing lifestyles of youth in schools seem to be very promising."

The authors note that further studies are needed to tackle the question of how other obesity prevention programs are affecting eating disorder symptoms in young people. "We found that our obesity prevention program was safe, that is, it did not worsen eating disorder symptoms and even protected against the development of eating disorder symptoms among girls," said Austin. "The team of scientists and educators that created the program was also very careful not to single out or stigmatize overweight kids. Those involved with other obesity prevention programs in schools and communities around the country should look at the effects of those programs on eating disorder symptoms and weight-related bullying to make sure they're safe for the children."

The study was supported by the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health project, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Berkowitz Family Legal Sea Foods Fellowship in Public Health Nutrition at HSPH; and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Drs. Wiecha and Peterson receive royalties as co-authors of the Planet Health curriculum.

Reference: "School-Based Overweight Preventive Intervention Lowers Incidence of Disordered Weight-Control Behaviors in Early Adolescent Girls," S. Bryn Austin, Juhee Kim, Jean Wiecha, Philip J. Troped, Henry A. Feldman, Karen E. Peterson, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 161, No. 9, September 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "School-based Overweight Prevention Program May Cut Risk Of Eating Disorders Among Girls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204927.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2007, September 6). School-based Overweight Prevention Program May Cut Risk Of Eating Disorders Among Girls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204927.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "School-based Overweight Prevention Program May Cut Risk Of Eating Disorders Among Girls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204927.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins