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Balázs Ludányi & Pál Szabó: : Eating Disorders and School. Risk Factor or the Site of Prevention?

Eating disorders are frequent disturbances with a risk of a variety of somatic complications and comorbid psychiatric disorders, that typically begin during adolescence, are difficult to manage, and may become chronic. The development, maintenance and recovery of these disorders are influenced by numerous biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. The objective of the authors is to provide a review about the phenomena of eating disorders, and to demonstrate the potential role of schools and teachers in the development and in the prevention of eating disorders through international initiatives. After describing the underlying factors of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders, the authors draw attention to the possible role of the school environment in the development and prevention of eating disorders. The second part of the article presents programs in international practice applied in schools for the prevention of eating disorders. The program ‘Everybody's Different’ includes methods for stress management, definition of self-image, practices for the enhancement of self-esteem and knowledge about social stereotypes. The program improved body satisfaction, and this effect was present during the 12-month follow-up. The program Cognitive Dissonance-based Interventions provides information about the dangers of the thinness ideal. Young people are provided help by organizing role plays aimed at questioning the thinness ideal, along with interactive exercises and workshops for personality development. Identification with the thinness ideal and body dissatisfaction, as well as the risk of the development of eating disorders decreased among students involved in the program, who reported less negative emotions. The aim of ‘Media programs’ and ‘Theatre programs’ is to enhance media literacy, using a variety of interactive exercises. These programs reduce the identification with the thinness ideal and the effect of other risk factors. The program ‘Very Important Kids’ tries to increase body satisfaction and to reduce unhealthy weight control behaviors, by means of drama exercises and training aimed at decreasing school teasing. The above international practices demonstrate that the school environment can counterbalance the effects of negative social and cultural messages by means of enhancing self-esteem, criticizing the ideals presented in the media, and increasing body satisfaction.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 117. Number 1. 73-93. (2017)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Ludányi Balázs, Heves Megyei Pedagógiai Szakszolgálat Egri Tagintézménye, H–3300 Eger, Bem tábornok út 3.; Szabó Pál, Debreceni Egyetem, Pszichológiai Intézet, H–4032 Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia