Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Health Promotion, Education and Behavior
Body dissatisfaction contributes to disproportionately high rates of disordered eating behaviors observed in Black teenagers. Given that self-compassion is found to buffer against eating pathology and body dissatisfaction and is linked to reduced incidences of binge eating and disordered eating behavior. Incorporating the self-compassion construct, specifically centering on nutrition, with a program that combats negative body image, like the Body Project, may further help decrease body dissatisfaction and improve overall nutrition.
The aim of this dissertation was to test (1) the acceptability and feasibility of a novel program, Body Appreciation and Better Eating, add self-compassion (BABE+SC), and to (2) assess within and between-group differences in seven psychosocial outcomes (self-compassion, binge eating risk, social comparison and feedback-seeking, body appreciation, mindful eating, social connectedness, and weight and body related guilt) from a body image and nutrition self-compassion-informed program (BABE+SC; treatment group) compared to a body image and nutrition program not informed by self-compassion (BABE; control group).
To be included in this study, participants had to: identify as a Black/African American teenage girl, be between the ages of 13 to 18 years old, attend high school in the US during the 2022-2023 school year, and report having body dissatisfaction. Thirteen Black/African American teenage girls, aged 14 to 17, were randomized to a 4-week, 75-minute virtual treatment or control group body image and nutrition education course. Participants completed surveys at baseline, 1-week post-intervention, and at 1-month follow-up.
Findings show that recruitment methods were not feasible for this study; as the goal of 24 participants was not met (n=13; 54% goal met). However, findings showed high retention rates (100% post-intervention; 92% 1-month follow-up), minimal missing data, good attendance rates (77% of participants attended 100% of classes, and 33% of participants attended 75% of classes), and positive feedback from focus group discussion and program evaluation surveys. These findings suggest that both the BABE +SC program and the BABE program were both feasible and acceptable programs for Black teenage girls. Within-group improvements in self-compassion, body appreciation, and social connectedness were seen in the treatment group (BABE+SC). Within-group improvements in self-compassion, binge eating risk, and social connectedness were also seen in the control group (BABE).
Both programs were feasible and acceptable for Black/African American teenage girls in this study. However, given that the recruitment goal was not met, future studies should prioritize recruitment methods to recruit a larger sample size to better assess the acceptability and generalizability of the programs. BABE+SC and BABE both show promise as a program to increase psychosocial well-being in teenage girls. However, further testing with a larger sample size is needed to substantiate the findings.
Okpara, N. B.(2023). Babe (Body Appreciation and Better Eating), Just Add a Dash of Self-Compassion: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study for Black/African American Teenage Girls. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/7393
Available for download on Sunday, August 31, 2025