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Raising a Body Confident Child

A study hosted by the Academy for Eating Disorders demonstrated positive results in reducing the potential vulnerabilities for eating disorders and promoting healthy body image, healthy dietary habits and weight management in young children through intervention with the parents.

The Program

The program is called “Confident Body, Confident Child, or CBCC and it’s designed for parents of children between the ages of 2 and 6 years of age. The results of the study done by Academy for Eating Disorders indicated that parents who participated in it increased their awareness of things that might have a negative impact on body image or may encourage the development of an eating disorder. Parents who participated in CBCC increased their positive behaviors that are associated with a decrease in the risk of a child developing body dissatisfaction, unhealthy eating and weight.

Body dissatisfaction has been considered a public health issue because it’s linked to numerous psychological and physical consequences such as; higher body mass index, depression, eating disorders and much more. A child can develop a distorted body image at any time during childhood, some children as young as 5-6 can experience it. At this age, parents play a vital role in a child’s development and can assist in creating a positive family environment that encourages positive attitudes and behaviors surrounding eating habits and weight management.

The Confident Body, Confident Child program is designed to give parents empowerment during this crucial period by providing research-based education and resources like booklets, posters, children’s books, workshops and a website.

The research suggests that people who parent through the use of CBCC methods can help promote family environments that provide protection against a child experiencing future body dissatisfaction and developing unhealthy eating habits.

Dr. Laura Hart, primary investigator of the study stated, “We are excited about this program because parents tell us it’s exactly what they need in the current time of obesity fear and increasing disordered eating behaviors.”

Conclusion:

We all know family influences play an important and vital role in the development of a child’s body image and eating patterns. The CBCC resource pack includes the following materials:

•The Parent Book
•The Extended Family Book
•A Do/Don’ts poster
•The CBCC website located at www.confidentbody.net
•Shapesville written by Andy Mills and Becky Osborn; a children’s book that celebrates appearance diversity
•A parental information session with PowerPoint presentation and group activities

The resource packet was developed through evaluating a number of research studies and it was evaluated in a large, randomized controlled trial by the Body Image and Disordered Eating research team at La Trobe University.
The research was funded through a grant from a private foundation, along with support from the Butterfly Foundation and was approved by the La Trobe University Human Research Ethics Committee.