Primary prevention of eating disorders: might it do more harm than good?
Carter JC., Stewart DA., Dunn VJ., Fairburn CG.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate a new school-based eating disorder prevention program designed to reduce dietary restraint. METHOD: Forty-six school-girls, aged 13-14 years, took part. The intervention consisted of eight weekly sessions of 45 min duration. A battery of self-report questionnaires was administered before and after the intervention and 6 months later. RESULTS: Unlike previous prevention studies, there was not only an increase in knowledge at postintervention but there was also a decrease in target behavior and attitudes. However, these effects were short-lived since they had disappeared 6 months later: indeed, at 6-month follow-up there was an increase in dietary restraint compared with baseline. DISCUSSION: These findings suggest that the intervention had been counterproductive since it led to an increase in dietary restraint. They imply that school-based prevention programs may do more harm than good.