Adolescent Engagement in a Binge-Eating Behavioral Health Intervention: Influence of Perceptions of Physical Appearance and Locus of Control
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Traditional weight management approaches focused solely on weight loss as a measure of success may lead youth to internalize negative beliefs about their appearance, and feel they have little control over their health. We examined how perceptions of appearance and health-related locus of control (HRLOC) influenced engagement and outcomes in a behavioral health intervention for binge eating. Thirty adolescents aged 14-18 years completed measures of self-perception, HRLOC, and eating behaviors. Half (n = 15) completed baseline assessments only, while the other half participated in a 10-week intervention targeting dysregulated eating behaviors. Analyses revealed negative perceptions of physical appearance and internal HRLOC were higher at baseline among youth who completed the intervention compared to those who completed baseline assessments only. Among those completing the intervention, however, greater internal HRLOC and more positive perception of physical appearance at baseline was associated with greater reduction in objective binge episodes and emotional eating post-intervention. Findings of the present study suggest that while having a more negative perception of one's appearance may initially motivate youth to participate in weight-related interventions, such perceptions can actually lead to poorer health outcomes, and further supports the extant literature on the benefits of interventions that engender positive body image.
author list (cited authors)
Kamody, R. C., Thurston, I. B., & Burton, E. T.