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The impact of education on weight control beliefs

Michele M. Laliberte (Assistant Professor, Part-Time and the Clinical Director, based at Eating Disorders Clinic, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Daniel Balk (Thesis student, based at Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Stacey Tweed (Post-Doctorate Fellow, based at Eating Disorders clinic, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada)
Jessica Smith (Thesis student, based at Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Amrita Ghai (Pre-Doctoral Fellow, based at Eating Disorders Clinic, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 10 June 2014

268

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether reading a self-help chapter on the body's regulation of weight can change weight control beliefs, and whether such changes in turn predict improvements in body dissatisfaction and self-esteem.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants of a mixed racial sample of undergraduate college women (n=154) completed measures of personal weight control beliefs, body dissatisfaction, self-esteem and knowledge before and after they read a self-help education chapter.

Findings

Exposure to the education was associated with improvement in knowledge, body dissatisfaction and self-esteem and change in weight control beliefs. Increase in the belief in “striving for a healthy lifestyle with acceptance of one's natural weight” predicted improvement in body dissatisfaction and self-esteem.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides preliminary evidence that realistic information about weight control can impact weight control beliefs, and that this in turn is associated with improvement in body satisfaction and self-esteem. The major limitation of the study is the lack of control group to ensure changes are not due to factors like social desirability. Future directions would be to replicate this research using a control group, and to look at the role of education and weight control beliefs in eating disordered and bariatric populations.

Originality/value

This is the first study to look at the impact of providing young women with realistic information about the body's regulation of weight and weight loss outcomes on their beliefs about weight control, body dissatisfaction and self-esteem. This information is valuable for health care providers and educators working with young women.

Keywords

Citation

M. Laliberte, M., Balk, D., Tweed, S., Smith, J. and Ghai, A. (2014), "The impact of education on weight control beliefs", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 86-95. https://doi.org/10.1108/EIHSC-11-2013-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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