Representative surveys indicate that eating disorders are an increasing problem, especially among (pre)adolescents. We assessed the effects of a German school-based primary prevention program (“Torera”) for seventh graders. Torera especially relates to pathological eating behavior in the realm of bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. The program is built upon two previously evaluated modules for sixth graders with a gender-specific adaption. The coeducational intervention involves nine manual-guided lessons touching a wide range of eating-related problems. Twenty-two Thuringian secondary schools (n = 256 boys and 277 girls, aged 11–13 years at baseline) participated in a trial with 2 control groups (untreated and pretreated) with pre–post assessment. Primary outcomes were conspicuous eating behavior and body self-esteem, measured by standardized questionnaires (SCOFF, EAT-26D, and FBeK). Girls and students at risk showed significant improvement with small (d = 0.35) to medium (d = 0.66) effect sizes on eating behavior, significantly mediated by body self-esteem. Boys only improved with respect to eating attitudes, revealing a small effect size (d = 0.35). With relatively low implementation costs (about €2.50 per student), Torera provides an efficient model for reducing risky eating behavior and strengthening body self-esteem without negative side effects. To improve the effectiveness of the intervention, further research efforts focusing on at-risk groups (secondary prevention) and structural actions for prevention (e.g., offering healthy school catering) are needed.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 24, 2013
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