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On-Line Program May Avert Eating Disorders in High-Risk Women

On-Line Program May Avert Eating Disorders in High-Risk Women

STANFORD, Calif., Aug. 7 -- Abnormal body-image concerns and the risk of a full-blown eating disorder in high-risk college-age women can be significantly reduced by an Internet-based behavioral intervention, researchers here reported.

In a randomized, controlled trial of 480 women (ages 16 to 20) at risk for an eating disorder, an eight-week psycho-social intervention, called "Student Bodies," was most successful among overweight women with a BMI of 25 or more, according to a report in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Of those in the intervention group with a BMI over 25, none developed an eating disorder after two years, whereas 11.9% of the equal-weight controls did, said C. Barr Taylor, M.D., of Stanford, and colleagues. The program was tested in the San Francisco area and in San Diego.

The program also appeared to help a subgroup of women in the San Francisco area with early symptoms of an eating disorder and low-level baseline compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative, diet-pill or diuretic use, or excessive exercise, the researchers reported. Of those in the intervention group, 14% developed an eating disorder within two years versus 30% of the controls, the researchers said.

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