National Eating Disorders Association

The Body Project: Increasing Body Acceptance in High School Students!

Chelsea Kronengold, Body Project Program Coordinator

In the United States, 30 million people will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. More than half of teen girls and nearly a third of teen boys are engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors. Given these startling numbers, we at NEDA believe that early intervention and prevention is crucial, which is why we recently launched an eating disorder prevention and early intervention program: The Body Project.

Backed by two decades of research and evaluation data, the Body Project gives girls the tools and skills to confront unrealistic beauty ideals and engages them in the development of healthy body image. 

In this pilot initiative, we partnered with five New York City high schools to deliver the program:  Brooklyn Lab, WATCH, Norman Thomas, Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, and Validus Preparatory Academy. 

As program coordinator, I also co-facilitated one of the groups and had the opportunity to see the inner-workings of the Body Project in action. In four short weeks, I watched my group of high school girls confront their insecurities to become confident body activists. By the time the program came to a close, the girls not only exhibited more body positivity, but they also built each other up and formed a community of supportive and like-minded individuals. One of our graduate student facilitators, Jess Silverman, reports that her group was “receptive to the new information and skills learned in the Body Project, leaving the program with a stronger sense of themselves.” 

NEDA is pleased to announce that results from the pilot initiative are consistent with previous Body Project research; effectively reducing body dissatisfaction, negative mood, thin-ideal internalization, unhealthy dieting and disordered eating amongst teenage participants and adult facilitators. We are excited to continue our Body Project dissemination efforts over the summer, partnering with NYC youth organizations.

More about the results:

  • 100% of participants learned new information, as reported by facilitators and school point of contacts
  • 90% of facilitators & POCs report feeling confident modeling body positivity in their lives
  • Many groups are continuing to meet to carry on body-acceptance messages
  • Students showed improvement across measures and we received valuable input that will help NEDA  tailor the program to best serve diverse populations.