Do universal media literacy programs have an effect on weight and shape concern by influencing media internalization?

Tracey Wade, Simon Wilksch, Susan Paxton, Susan Bryne, S Austin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The current study examined whether media internalization, found to mediate the relationship between selected prevention programs and outcomes, mediated the impact of two universal prevention programs that targeted risk factors for eating disorders and obesity, namely weight concern, and shape concern. Students randomized to a media literacy (Media Smart) program (N = 269, 65% females, mean age 12.97 years) and a healthy lifestyle (Life Smart) program (N = 347, 69% females, mean age 13.07 years) were included in the analyses. There were four waves of data (baseline, end of intervention, 6- and 12-month follow-up). Latent growth curve modeling was used to explore whether group assignment influenced levels of media internalization, and whether that in turn influenced change over time of our two outcome variables. Being randomly allocated to Media Smart as opposed to Life Smart resulted in less growth of both outcome variables through the influence on decreasing levels of media internalization. Findings provided support for the suggestion that media literacy programs exert an impact on outcomes related to eating disorder risk through changes to media internalization. Future research should examine whether these mechanisms of change differ between girls and boys.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)731-738
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
    Issue number7
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


    • healthy lifestyle
    • media literacy
    • thin ideal internalization
    • weight and shape concern


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