Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 93 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Drew A Anderson

Committee Members

Mitch Earleywine, Daniel S Kirschenbaum


Eating Disorders, Obesity, Prevention, Weight Management, Reducing diets, Weight loss, Eating disorders, Overweight persons

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Public Health


American teens and young adults are at risk for developing pathological eating patterns, which can lead to eating disorders and obesity. Despite the success of weight management programs for obese individuals, some researchers caution that participation in an aggressive approach to weight management could promote the development of eating disorders. The current study evaluated the risks of following a weight management program for healthy young adults who served as staff members in immersion treatment of obesity over the course of a summer. Participants included Wellspring staff members (n = 108) along with a comparison group of young adults with similar demographic characteristics (n = 136). Participants completed assessments of eating disorder and obesity risk at three time points: the beginning of the summer, the end of the summer, and a six week follow-up. Wellspring participants lost weight over the course of the summer, and weight loss related to initial BMI, such that those at higher BMI levels at the beginning of the summer lost more weight. Comparison participants' weight status remained unchanged during the summer. Wellspring staff members also evidenced increases in dietary restraint, but not in eating disordered behaviors, over the summer. Increases in dietary restraint appeared to facilitate appropriate weight reduction for Wellspring participants. Participation as leaders in an immersion weight loss program seemed to benefit, not harm, young adults, suggesting advantages for using weight controlling interventions in a wide range of individuals.