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The effectiveness of interventions aiming to promote positive body image in adults: A systematic review

Guest, Ella; Costa, Bruna; Williamson, Heidi; Meyrick, Jane; Halliwell, Emma; Harcourt, Diana


Jane Meyrick
Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology

Diana Harcourt
Professor in Appearance & Health Psychology Research


© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Theory suggests promoting positive body image (PBI)through interventions would have a significant impact on health and well-being. However, little is known about the effectiveness of existing interventions. This review aimed to identify and assess the evidence of effectiveness of interventions to increase PBI in adults. Database searches were conducted using CINAHL Plus, Medline, PsychINFO, Wiley Online Library, and SCOPUS. Application of inclusion criteria and data extraction were conducted by two reviewers. Methodological quality was assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool, and narrative synthesis was conducted. Fifteen studies, evaluating 13 interventions, were included. Three studies, evaluating one online writing-based functionality intervention, were judged to have strong methodological quality and had evidence of improving body appreciation, body esteem, and functionality satisfaction. Six moderate quality studies found interventions using intuitive eating, CBT, self-compassion, and exercise improved PBI. There was limited evidence of effectiveness of interventions for men, suggesting future research is needed to better understand PBI mechanisms in men. Lack of heterogeneity of outcome measures is discussed as a limitation. Findings suggest existing interventions are effective at increasing aspects of PBI among women and support the development of interventions that target multiple components of PBI.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2019
Journal Body Image
Print ISSN 1740-1445
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Pages 10-25
APA6 Citation Guest, E., Costa, B., Williamson, H., Meyrick, J., Halliwell, E., & Harcourt, D. (2019). The effectiveness of interventions aiming to promote positive body image in adults: A systematic review. Body Image, 30, 10-25.
Keywords key words, systematic review, intervention, positive body image, body appreciation, body image flexibility, body functionality
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here: