The Eating and Appearance Research Laboratory (E.A.R.L.) at Neapolis University Pafos is the only of its kind in Cyprus and deals mainly with appearance and eating-related issues in males and females of all ages. The mission of the Eating and Appearance Research Laboratory (E.A.R.L.) of Neapolis University Pafos is to identify, understand, and explore body image, disordered eating, and related concerns. The concerns about body image and disordered eating are growing significantly in modern society since societal demands encourage the achievement of an ideal image or lifestyle.  At E.A.R.L., we aim to achieve a greater understanding of how body image and disordered eating affect several psychological mechanisms, both at the individual and the collective/societal level. We aim to inform a variety of audiences such as research communities, the academia, clinicians, and the general public, and aid the application of knowledge to better health. E.A.R.L. also strives to participate in advocacy and outreach opportunities by reaching out to community organizations to implement body-image-related and disordered eating programs and getting involved in activities that promote awareness of concerns and appreciation of the body. In addition to its continuous research projects, the EARL is proud to utilize the Body Project.  

The Body Project is a dissonance-based body-acceptance intervention designed to help high school and college-age women resist sociocultural pressures to conform to the thin-ideal and reduce their pursuit of thinness.  A reduction in thin-ideal internalization should result in improved body satisfaction and improved mood, reduced use of unhealthy weight-control behaviors, and decreased binge eating and other eating disorder symptoms. 

Consistent with this expectation, randomized prevention trials conducted by eight independent labs have found the Body Project reduces thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting, and eating disorder symptoms.  This intervention has also been found to reduce risk for future onset of threshold and subthreshold eating disorders.  In addition, there is evidence that the Body Project intervention reduces the risk for future onset of obesity, results in improved psychosocial functioning, and reduces mental health care utilization.  To our knowledge, no other prevention program has produced intervention effects for eating disorder symptoms in trials conducted by independent labs or shown superior effects relative to alternative active interventions.  The Body Project also appears to be the first eating disorder prevention program that has received support when delivered by research-trained staff, real-world providers, and even undergraduate peer leaders.   

The conceptual basis for the Body Project is that if girls and young women voluntarily argue against the thin ideal, this will result in a reduced subscription to this ideal and to consequent decreases in eating disorder risk factors and symptoms.  Thus, this intervention involves a series of verbal, written, and behavioral exercises in which the students critique the thin ideal.  Theoretically, the act of publicly critiquing the thin ideal results in cognitive dissonance among those who originally endorsed this ideal, which causes them to reduce their subscription to the thin ideal.  As such, the Body Project intervention attempts to apply persuasion principles, originally identified by social psychologists, to reduce an attitudinal risk factor for eating pathology. 

The Body Project can be completed in four 90-minute sessions in groups of 6-8 girls. The EARL is interested in either training your staff to implement the Body Project to your students or us implementing it to your students. If you are interested to further discuss this opportunity, please get in touch with us so that we can arrange a meeting (physically or electronically).