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What is the Healthy Bodies Study?

Campus2The Healthy Bodies Study (HBS) is a line of work seeking to explore the prevalence and correlates of disordered eating on college and university campuses and the extent to which students with apparent need are utilizing mental health resources. HBS is comprised of several complimentary, population-level research projects designed to understand and address these issues. Projects include an annual web-based survey focused on students’ relationships with eating, dieting, exercising, and body image (see Survey Research), and online interventions to promote help-seeking among students with untreated symptoms of disordered eating (see Intervention Research).

HBS is run by researchers at University of Michigan. Through close collaborations with campus practitioners and national mental health organizations, HBS researchers strive to inform policy and practice on college and university campuses. HBS research projects are available for implementation at all types of colleges and universities, including two- and four-year U.S. and international institutions. If you are a campus administrator interested in enrolling your college or university in HBS research, please contact the research team.

The HBS research team can be reached at healthybodies@umich.edu.

The Need for HBS Research

ForSchools1Disordered eating and body image dissatisfaction are common in undergraduate and graduate student populations. Previous research on college student mental health has focused primarily on depression, anxiety, suicidality and substance use. Considerably less is known about eating disorders relative to other mental health problems common in college student populations. This is particularly true when considering that eating disorders, like other mental health problems, exist along a continuum of severity. Where much attention has been paid to subclinical depression and anxiety in national epidemiological college-based research, measures of disordered eating have typically been reduced to but a handful of questions about specific behaviors, often described in clinical terms. While important studies have addressed eating disorders in specifically defined student sub-groups (e.g., sorority women, female athletes, students from certain academic departments), these are usually single-site studies with limited generalizability. Through its survey research and intervention work, HBS takes a public health approach by assessing and addressing disordered eating at the population-level.

About the Healthy Minds Network

HMNHBS is part of the Healthy Minds Network for Research on Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health (HMN). Taking a public health approach, HMN focuses on three main objectives: (1) producing knowledge (research), (2) distributing knowledge (dissemination), and (3) using knowledge (practice). HMN is dedicated to improving the mental and emotional well-being of young people through innovative, multidisciplinary scholarship. HMN research addresses the connection between the mental health of adolescents and young adults and their health behaviors, physical health, and social, educational, and economic outcomes. Through its rich array of research projects, the network serves as a resource for secondary and higher education administrators, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and the public.

For more information about HMN, please visit: healthymindsnetwork.org.