chapter  5
18 Pages

Elementary School Curricula for the Primary Prevention of Eating Problems

There is a clear trend among those interested in the primary prevention of eating disorders and problems to call for programs aimed at elementary-school children (Franko & Orosan-Weine, in 1998; Shisslak Crago, Estes, & Gray, 1996; Smolak & Levine, 1994). There are several reasons for this. First, although problematic eating attitudes and behaviors exist among elementary school-aged children (i.e., children 11 years old and under), these may be less consolidated than they are in adolescents or adults (Shisslak, Crago, McKnight et aL 1998; Smolak, Levine, fr Schermer, 1998b) . Ties among the components 01 the thinness schema underlying eating disorders-such as beliefs about attractiveness, self image, and weight control-seem to he weaker. This may make it casier to effectively intervene. Relatedly, educators may he interested in catching behaviors and attitudes such as dieting and weight concerns as lhey first appear, before they are enTrenched habits thar arc difficult TO change . Finally, the majority of elementary school children, even girls, are not dieting nor are they dissa tisfied with their bodies. This , in combination with the relative weakness of the thinness schema, suggests that elementary-school programs may be aimed effectively at preventil1H such behaviors. By adolescence, programs must aim to change as well as prevent body dissatisfaction and eating problerHs .