Eating disorders and anxiety in middle school: A yoga and mindfulness-based primary prevention program
Olka, Emily Keddie
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The present study will investigate the efficacy of G irls Growing in Wellness and Balance, a 12-session school-based program for fifth grade girls, in preventing eating disorders and anxiety. Both eating disorders and anxiety are significant mental health problems that have potentially devastating effects for those individuals who experience them. Eating disorders, while less prevalent than anxiety disorders, have direct effects on physical as well as mental health, and cause disruptions across multiple areas of functioning. Primarily affecting females, eating disorders remain difficult to treat, and are notoriously chronic and prone to relapse. Anxiety, on the other hand, affects many more individuals but can also have negative effects in multiple spheres of functioning. Developing largely during childhood, the trajectory of anxiety can become increasingly complicated through adolescence and into adulthood. Further, these disorders frequently co-occur, making early prevention addressing both issues an important aim of further knowledge. This study emphasizes decreasing risk factors and bolstering protective factors in a constructivist, positive psychology framework. It was hypothesized that participation in Girls' Group would decrease symptoms related to drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, decrease disordered eating behaviors, and various symptoms of anxiety, significantly more than a control group. Results indicate that consistent with prior research, the revised version of the program was effective in reducing drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, but not in eating disorder symptoms. There was not a significant effect on any forms of childhood anxiety. Possible reasons for these findings as well as directions for future research on prevention of co-occurring eating disorders and anxiety are discussed.