April 16, 2018
The Body Project: Equipping students to resist unhealthy appearance ideals
Empowering college students to think healthy and respect body diversity in themselves and others is the ideal when it comes to body image. That concept is the focus of a nationally acclaimed program being implemented at Kansas State University by Lafene Health Center and Counseling Services.
The Body Project, through a series activities, asks participants to challenge the appearance-ideal standards of our culture. The peer-led program is proven to reduce eating disorder risk factors in its participants.
"Body dissatisfaction is a risk factor that may trigger the onset of eating disorders in susceptible individuals," said Dianna Schalles, coordinator of nutrition counseling at Lafene Health Center and Body Project co-chair.
The evidence-based program for college-aged students was originally developed by Carolyn Becker, professor of psychology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and Eric Stice, senior research scientist at Oregon Research Institute. To date, the program has been used by more than 100 higher education institutions and delivered to more than 200,000 students across North America.
As a registered dietitian and co-chair of the K-State Eating Disorders Team, Schalles has seen firsthand the impact on the lives of students who struggle with disordered eating and body image.
"When I became aware the Body Project training was available to campuses nationwide, I knew it was something we needed to offer at K-State," Schalles said.
"An increasing number of college-age students are experimenting with unhealthy diets and body dissatisfaction," said Wendy Barnes, Body Project co-chair and Counseling Services outreach coordinator. "Eating disorders, in general, have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and the longer they go untreated, the lower the chance of recovery."
The Body Project features two, two-hour sessions that focus on a variety of topics, including resisting the appearance ideal standard of beauty; embracing the healthy ideal; and reducing body dissatisfaction and embracing all of the non-appearance aspects of participants and their peers.
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