Body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and mindfulness-based interventions

Symons, A. (2014). The prevention of eating disordered pathology in college-aged women: A longitudinal examination of cognitive dissonance and mindfulness-based interventions (Doctoral dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton).

Abstract. Extant research indicates that cognitive dissonance-based programs for eating disorder prevention reduce body dissatisfaction for young women from pre- to post-intervention. However, the inflexible sociocultural context that informs the body image of many college-aged women suggests that other prevention tactics, such as mindfulness, may be more effective in decreasing body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, significant differences in methodology across studies, including but not limited to the lack or presence of a control group and follow-up assessments, indicate the need for continued and improved evaluation of these dissonance-based efforts.

The current study investigated the effects of dissonance-based and mindfulness-based eating disorder prevention programs on body dissatisfaction. Female college students (N = 103) with body image concerns were randomized to either one of these prevention programs or an assessment-only control group. Body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, thin-ideal internalization, and mindfulness were assessed at pre-intervention, one month follow-up, and two month follow-up.

Results indicated that body dissatisfaction and dietary restraint were reduced from initial assessment to one month follow-up for those in both intervention conditions but not for those in the control condition. These changes were maintained from one month to two month follow-up. However, thin ideal internalization and mindfulness did not differentially change according to group membership as anticipated, suggesting that non-specific factors may have played a more potent role in observed improvements than protocol content.