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Primary Prevention

Research suggests that some eating disorder risk factors can be reduced.

Primary prevention strategies can be targeted at high-risk populations, with the aim of minimising eating disorder risk factors before any eating disorder pathology has developed.

Research shows that selective prevention interventions aimed at high-risk groups including females and adolescents over the age of 15, and delivered by professionals, may be most effective. There is growing evidence around prevention programs that teach media literacy.

Modifiable risk factors include:

  • Body dissatisfaction(1)
  • Engaging in dieting(2)

In this video, A/Prof. Sarah Maguire (Clinical Psychologist and Director of InsideOut Institute) explores the prevention of eating disorders.

Prevention Recommendations

Dianne Neumark Sztainer (2009)(3) has made key recommendations specifically related to eating, weight and body image: 

  1. Discourage dieting; instead encourage and support the use of positive eating and physical activity behaviours that can be maintained on an ongoing basis 
  2. Promote a positive body image among all adolescents 
  3. Encourage more frequent and more enjoyable family meals 
  4. Encourage families to talk less about weight and do more at home to facilitate healthy eating and physical activity 
  5. Assume that overweight teens have experienced weight mistreatment and address this issue with the individual and their families