– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.