Body Woes Diminish with BodiMojo
Body Woes Diminish with BodiMojo
New Report: Online Tools Reduce Body Image Dissatisfaction Among Teenage Girls
Cambridge, May 5, 2011 - When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? For most American women, the answer is an unequivocal “no.” But now Boston researchers launching a new web and mobile-app program, BodiMojo.com, have shown that innovative web-based social tools can decrease body image worries among high-school girls. “Using the power and appeal of the Internet is an innovative way of addressing a host of psychosocial concerns and targeting behaviors for teens,” said Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology Professor Debra Franko, Ph.D., Northeastern University, Boston, co-investigator of the study and a leading authority in eating disorders.
At age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen, according to the National Institute on Media and the Family. The use of BodiMojo’s online, interactive program significantly improved attitudes among teenage girls, as compared to girls who did not use the program. “In particular, after using BodiMojo, girls were more satisfied with their body and physical appearance and there was less tendency to compare their physical appearance to others,” said study co-investigator Tara Cousineau, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of BodiMojo.
BodiMojo was developed with a team of technology and health experts, designers and adolescents to encourage healthy nutrition, increase physical activity, and promote positive body image. The program was conducted with 178 boys and girls in four urban and suburban Boston schools. Intervention groups used the Bodimojo program, while other classrooms participated in their usual health curriculum. Study results showed positive changes for girls based on body image improvements related to appearance, weight and comparisons to others.
Teen girls at Codman Academy in Dorchester, MA, an urban charter public school, said BodiMojo was helpful in counteracting the media messages constantly bombarding them from about being thin and losing weight. “There’s plenty of talk about teens getting enough exercise and eating well, but there is not enough easily accessible information to help change patterns and beliefs or to teach teenage girls to love themselves and their bodies,” said Codman Academy teacher Elizabeth Butler.
“The BodiMojo team is pleased with research and development results. It’s great to have an evidence-based prevention program for girls. When it comes to teen health and prevention of chronic conditions that may occur later in life, we need to engage teenagers through personalized and meaningful messages rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Technology in healthcare can be used for positive outcomes, and the use of social games and motivational incentives is key for engaging adolescents. We now have a great opportunity to involve teens as co-creators and change agents,” said Dr. Cousineau.
BodiMojo.com is a social and motivational health platform for adolescents, 13-19, created in collaboration with teens and health experts. With initial funding from a federal small business grant, BodiMojo offers web and mobile health apps that personalize health messages for the teen. BodiMojo includes interactive health tools, games, health quizzes, original health content, social networking, and customized user pages for teens. BodiMojo’s Facebook app on its fan page to allows teens to take health quizzes, map a “mood cloud,” and send motivational messages, challenges, and virtual gifts to friends. A smart phone app will be available this summer. BodiMojo is a Reader Choice 2011 Finalist in Best Websites for Teens by About.com.
Note: The project described was supported by Award Number R44DK074280 from the National Institutes of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIDDK or the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Tara Cousineau