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Body image interventions in rapidly developing populations

Principle Investigator: Prof Lynda Boothroyd
Collaborators: Prof Phillippa Diedrichs, Dr Elizabeth Evans, Dr Tracey Thornborrow
Dr Moises Mubarak, Dr David Kolar, Macdonald Matika, Prof Pascale Bovet

This Wellcome funded project will explore with local populations, how best to foster body image resilience, and prevent the development of eating disorders, in populations with recent access to mass media.

Low-income communities around the globe are experiencing rapid and accelerating increases in access to visual media via the internet and satellite television alongside substantial changes in diet, which put them at ever increasing risk of eating disorders and related pathologies. And yet, there is no evidence base demonstrating the best means of preventing these pernicious mental health conditions becoming entrenched. There is thus an urgent need to develop eating disorder prevention education suitable for communities experiencing novel exposure to globalisation. The current project takes the first steps in developing such a program in rural Nicaragua, and will build an international and multi-disciplinary research network across three continents to gather crucial data in determining the likely viability of this program in multiple research sites. This will allow us to then establish through a major research bid whether media-literacy and body-positive education can reduce eating disorder risk factors in rapidly developing populations.

The project involves pilot work in Nicaragua, alongside surveys and focus groups in Colombia, Zimbabwe and the Seychelles. We will also be hosting meetings regionally and in the UK to take the research forward. These pages will be updated with more information in the near future.

We are keen to talk to researchers interested in collaboration or who work with education or health policy and services in similar populations. For further information on how to get involved, please complete this form.