Shifting the Focus: A Pilot Study on the Effects of Positive Body Exposure on Body Satisfaction, Body Attitude, Eating Pathology and Depressive Symptoms in Female Patients with Eating Disorders

Marlies E. Rekkers*, Lisanne Aardenburg, Mia Scheffers, Annemarie A. van Elburg, Jooske T. van Busschbach

*Corresponding author for this work

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    One of the most commonly used techniques for the treatment of body image problems in eating disorders (ED) is body exposure (BE). However, evidence of its effectiveness in clinical populations is scarce. In the Positive Body Experience (PBE) protocol, the focus of positive BE is on aesthetic, functional and tactile aspects of the body. The current study evaluates the outcomes of positive BE with regard to changes in attitudinal body image and eating pathology, as well as the factors that influence these changes, in a sample of 84 adult female patients with different EDs who did not receive any other treatment for their EDs during the period in which BE treatment occurred. The results show significant positive changes in attitudinal body image, ED behaviors and depressive symptoms, with depressive symptoms at baseline mediating the changes in attitudinal body image. This study indicates that the PBE protocol is a suitable intervention for reducing negative attitudinal body image in anorexia and bulimia nervosa patients, as well as those with binge eating disorder. Furthermore, the results suggest that positive non-weight-related and functional body satisfaction are strong catalysts for change and that depressive symptoms play an important role in the ability to change. Additional RCTs are needed to gain more insight into the effects of PBE.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number11794
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number18
    Publication statusPublished - Sept-2022


    • attitudinal body image
    • body attitude
    • body exposure
    • body satisfaction
    • depressive symptoms
    • eating disorders
    • mirror exposure

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