Body image treatment for a community sample of obligatory and nonobligatory exercisers




Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was used to treat body dissatisfaction in obligatory and nonobligatory exercisers within a community sample of normal weight women.


Ninety-four women (36% obligatory exercisers, 64% nonobligatory exercisers) were assigned randomly to CBT or the waiting-list (WL) control group.


The hypotheses that obligatory exercisers would show poorer pretreatment body image and greater compulsivity than nonobligatory exercisers were supported partially. The prediction that obligatory exercisers would respond less favorably to treatment was not supported. Overall, CBT participants evidenced significantly better body image outcomes than the WL at posttreatment, but many effects were lost by the follow-up.


Treatment response is considered in light of the unique characteristics of this ethnically diverse, older community sample when compared with the young students in earlier body image intervention studies. The high rate of physical activity among even the nonobligatory exercisers is highlighted for its mood-regulation properties and its treatment implications. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 30: 375–388, 2001.