Here is the evidence our pilot program at University High School works!
A few highlights: Participants reported decrease in emotional eating, Participants stopped constantly dieting and counting calories entirely, Students reported they no longer disliked their body, Participants reported significant decrease in thinking being thin would make their life better, Participants reported decrease in comparing their body to other people’s bodies and Participants reported less instances of thinking they were stupid of inferior.
For more details read below:
General characteristics of the group:
-20 week program offered to both male and female high school students in the Los Angeles area to promote a healthy body image, self esteem and healthy living habits. The goal of the program is to prevent eating disorders while emphasizing health at every size.
-Pre test survey completed by 18 participants. Pre test surveys gauged participant’s knowledge in nutrition and reported exercise. Results indicated that 94% (N=17) of respondents felt it was important to eat breakfast and reported knowing which foods were needed to grow healthy. However, only 56% (N=10) reported eating breakfast everyday to almost everyday.
-While 100% (N=18) agree that dieting can be harmful, 61% (N=11) report past dieting; 41% (N=8) have been told that they needed to lose weight; and 33% (N=6) report that dieting is the best way to lose weight
-100% (N=18) of respondents agreed that exercise was important, however, only 72% (N=13) exercise at least 3 times a week. *
Reported self image (demographic):
-28% (N=5) report avoiding physical activity, including sports, because they did not want to be seen in gym clothes. 33% report having “worried or obsessed” about being either too thin or overweight, while 38% have tried to gain or lose weight. Comparatively, 50% of those who attended all six sessions of the program reported having “worried or obsessed” about their weight, while 42% had tried to lose or gain weight. 50% (N=8) respondents have felt pressure to look a certain way or be a certain size. For those who attended all sessions, 100% (N=6) reported feeling pressure to look a certain way or size. 56% (N=9) report having been teased because of the way that they look. Only 50% (N=3) who completed all six sessions reported having been teased due to their appearance.
Reported behaviors pre/post program:
-59% (N=10) reported in the pre test that they eat or self-starve when feeling lonely, badly or due to emotional pressures. Post test results showed a decrease in this behavior with 38% (N=3) reporting eating or self-starving due to these factors. When comparing ONLY the six students who attended the entire program, a greater improvement in this behavior was noted. For those students, 83% reported eating or self-starving when feeling poorly vs. 50% who reported the same behavior in the post test.
-Dieting and/or counting calories and fat grams was also assessed pre and post program intervention. 29% (N=5) reported in the pre test that they are constantly dieting and/or counting calories and fat grams, while 0% reported this in the post test. 100% (N=9) of the post test respondents replied that they are not constantly on a diet and/or counting calories and fat grams. When comparing ONLY the six students who attended the entire program, 50% reported being on a constant diet and/or counting calories and fat grams. As stated in the above results, there were no respondents who reported this behavior in the post test. Overall, this may indicate a behavior change after the program was conducted.
Reported self image post program:
-Pre test results indicated that 47% (N=8) felt bad about themselves or did not like their body. Although post test results revealed that no respondents reported feeling bad about themselves or their body. When comparing ONLY the six students who attended the entire program, 67% (N=4) reported feeling this way in the pre test. As stated above, there were no respondents who reported feeling this way in the post test. This represents a significant change.
-Pre test results revealed that 47% (N=8) felt that life would be better and/or people would like them if they were thin/thinner. Post test surveys indicated an improved image with only 11% (N=1) feeling that life would be better if they were thinner. For those who attended the entire program, the results were similar with 50% (N=3) reporting life would be better and/or people would like them if they were thinner vs. 17% (N=1) in the post test.
-Another pre to post program improvement was found when asking participants if they often compared their appearance and weight to others and wished to be as “thin” as they are. Pre test results indicated 59% (N=10) compared their appearance/weight to others, while only 33% (N=3) indicated this in the post test. For those who attended the entire program (N=6), the results indicated that 83% (N=5) often compared their appearance/weight to others and wished to be as “thin.” The post test results showed an improvement with 33% (N=3) comparing their appearance to others at the end of the program .
-29% (N=5) pre test respondents reported that they thought they were “not good enough, stupid and/or worthless or that people” were always judging them in a negative way. This perception had improved 11% (N=1) in post test surveys feeling this way. When comparing the results for those who attended the entire program, the findings were unchanged from pre test to post test.
*Special thanks to Jessica Jarboe, San Jose State MPH Student for conducting analysis of our data and providing us with the data to present the evaluation for our pilot program.
**Our pilot program ran for 20 weeks and our final curriculum is now six weeks