Program

Oct 05, 2007

OVERVIEW

A curriculum was developed to modify the eating attitudes
and unhealthful weight regulation practices of young adolescent girls. Girls
aged 11 to 13 were randomly assigned by classroom to receive the
curriculum. Girls were followed for two years. At the 18-week
follow-up, girls assigned to the treatment group scored significantly higher
than girls assigned to the control group on a test of healthy weight regulation
knowledge. However, researchers considered the intervention to have
failed in achieving its objectives; because, at no follow-up did treatment
girls differ from control girls on the Eating Disorder Inventory, on measures
of eating attitudes, or on a restraint scale.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Young adolescent girls

A curriculum was developed to modify the eating attitudes
and unhealthful weight regulation practices of young adolescent girls.
The curriculum included instruction on the harmful effects of unhealthful
weight regulation and taught girls to consume nutritious foods, to participate
in regular aerobic activity, and to resist social messages about the importance
of thinness and dieting.

The curriculum included 18 lessons. In these lessons,
girls were taught that weight gain is a natural and necessary part of pubertal
growth in females and were reminded that every girl passes through puberty at
her own pace, making comparisons to same-age peers misleading. Girls were
also taught that excessive caloric restriction is not an effective long-term
weight control strategy. Girls were familiarized with the symptoms and
consequences of bulimia and anorexia and were shown how simple dieting techniques
can easily lead to binge/purge cycles. More healthful means of regulating
one’s weight were presented and girls were assisted in developing, evaluating,
and adopting personalized long-term nutritional and physical activity plans.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Killen, J. D., Taylor, C. B., Hammer, L. D., Litt, I., Wilson, D. M., Rich, T., Hayward, C., Simmonds, B., Kraemer, H., & Varady,
A. (1993).An Attempt to Modify
Unhealthful Eating Attitudes and Weight Regulation Practices of Young
Adolescent Girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 13(4),
369-384.

Evaluated population:  A total of 931 sixth and seventh grade
girls from four middle schools in northern California served as the study sample for
this investigation. Girls ranged in age from 11 to 13. 41% of girls
were white, 23% were Hispanic, 20% were Asian, 4% were black, 3% were Pacific
Islander, 3% were Native American, and 8% were of other ethnicities.

Approach: Girls were randomly assigned, by class,
either to the treatment group or to the control group. Treatment classes
received the healthy weight regulation curriculum. Control classes did
not receive the curriculum. All girls underwent assessment at
baseline. Assessment included the measurement of height and weight as
well as the completion of a test of healthy weight regulation knowledge and
numerous self-report measures, including a restraint scale, the Eating Disorder
Inventory, and a questionnaire about eating disorder symptoms. Follow-up
assessments occurred 3.5, 7, 14, and 24 months later (thought not all measures
were collected at each assessment).

Results: At the 18-week follow-up, girls assigned to
the treatment group scored significantly higher than girls assigned to the
control group on the test of knowledge. Treatment girls’ scores still
averaged less than 50% correct, however.

On no other measure did treatment girls differ significantly
from control girls at any follow-up. The intervention was unsuccessful at
positively impacting weight regulation and preventing eating disorders. A
tiny impact on BMI among a high-risk subgroup leads the authors to suggest
targeting high-risk adolescents rather than all students.

Note: Analyses were not designed to adjust for the effect of
clustering within schools.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Curriculum materials unavailable for
purchase.

References:

Killen, J. D., Taylor, C. B., Hammer, L. D., Litt, I., Wilson, D. M., Rich, T., Hayward, C., Simmonds, B., Kraemer, H., & Varady,
A. (1993).An Attempt to Modify Unhealthful
Eating Attitudes and Weight Regulation Practices of Young Adolescent
Girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 13(4), 369-384.

KEYWORDS: Physical Health, Eating Disorder, Nutrition, Gender-Specific
(Female Only), Adolescence (12-17), School-based, Overweight, Middle School, Education,
White or Caucasian, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Black or African American,
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native.

Program information last updated on
10/5/07.

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