Doctors from King’s College London conducted a pilot study at three UK state-funded secondary schools in which teenage girls took a six-lesson course on body image. The course discussed beauty ideals and peer pressure and offered strategies for improving self-esteem. The results showed promise, says lead researcher Dr. Helen Sharpe: “We’re hopeful that as we continue with this research we’ll be able to make the programme even more effective and that it could then go on to be effective in reducing…things like binge eating and unhelpful weight loss.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Negative body image continues to be a big issue among people in general and the young in particular, with one in three teens saying they dislike some aspect of their body. Last year UK government officials recommended compulsory lessons to help counteract this problem, but the researchers say some schools’ curricula aren’t evidence-based and could hurt instead of help. Their study, which was published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that the right interventions, as given by teachers, “would have wide reach and be of minimal cost.”