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School-based overweight prevention program may cut risk of eating disorders among girls
Date:9/3/2007

Boston, MA -- Eating disorders among adolescent girls and boys can have substantial negative impact on their health and lead to dangerous weight-control behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or abusing laxatives or diet pills to control weight. The middle school age is a high risk time, especially for girls starting to engage in these dangerous weight-control behaviors that affect millions of Americans. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) set out to determine if an obesity prevention program called 5-2-1-Go! could reduce the risk of eating disorder symptoms and harmful weight-control behaviors in adolescents. The study showed that almost 4% of middle-school girls receiving only their regular health education began vomiting or abusing laxatives or diet pills, but just 1% of the girls in the 5-2-1-Go! program did so. The results showed no effect of the program on middle-school boys. The study appears in the September 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

We are very encouraged by the results, said S. Bryn Austin, assistant professor at HSPH and a researcher at Childrens Hospital in Boston. We are hopeful that carefully designed health promotion programs like this one may help us prevent both eating disorders and overweight at the same time. The protective effect that we found was strong and held up under two rigorously designed studies, she said. The 5-2-1-Go! program (eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day, and get at least 1 hour of physical activity daily) includes the Planet Health curriculum, which was developed by HSPH researchers. It emphasizes eating a balanced diet, staying physically active and reducing the amount of time spent watching television. A previous study of the Planet Health curriculum had shown a protective effect on disordered weight-control behaviors in girls. The researchers wanted to see if that beneficial effect could be rep
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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