The 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club over 27-28 September.

Joining us at this year’s conference is Ms Michelle Raggatt, Research Assistant with the Burnet Institute who will present on ‘Does Viewing Images of Women with Diverse Body Types or Social Media Literacy Messages Mitigate the Negative Effects of Fitspiration?’

Michelle Raggatt


Aims: Fitspiration is a social media trend where users post content designed to inspire healthy eating and exercise. However, fitspiration content often portrays a singular idealised thin-athletic body type and emerging evidence suggests that viewing fitspiration content is associated with adverse mental health and body image outcomes. This study aimed to determine whether the negative effects of viewing fitspiration content can be mitigated by viewing images of women with diverse body types or images that encourage critical thinking about social media content (social media literacy).

Methods: Young women aged 16-29 years were recruited to participate in a randomised controlled trial with three arms. On three days over one week, all groups viewed fitspiration images interspersed with the condition group images: Group A, viewed diverse body types; Group B, social media literacy; and Group C (control), scenery. Accompanying questionnaires assessed state body dissatisfaction, mood and physical fitness satisfaction. Descriptive analyses and mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA) were undertaken on preliminary data to measure differences between groups and evaluate engagement.

Results: The preliminary sample included 161 participants (mean 23 years) who had completed the study at all three time points. Fitness satisfaction was significantly higher post-intervention for Group A compared to Group C on Day 1 and Day 3. There were no other significant differences between groups. A higher proportion of participants reacted positively to the diverse images (78%) compared to social media literacy images (61%) and fitspiration images (46%).

Conclusions: This study developed and tested social media strategies to reduce the negative effects of viewing fitspiration content. Preliminary findings suggest viewing images of women with diverse body types was most acceptable to participants and may positively impact satisfaction with physical fitness. Further analyses are required to understand the efficacy of the strategies and determine how participants perceive the strategies’ messages.

Key learnings:
1. Preliminary results showed no difference in body dissatisfaction between viewing images of women with diverse body types and images promoting media literacy messages compared to control images, however further analysis is needed.
2. Participants were more likely to engage positively with the images of women with diverse body types compared to images promoting media literacy messages. Qualitative data confirmed negative reactions to media literacy images.
3. Health campaigns aiming to improve positive body image should consider using diverse bodies, however further research is required to investigate effectiveness of this strategy.


Michelle Raggatt is a research assistant in the Behaviours and Health Risks program at the Burnet Institute. Michelle completed her honours project on the effects of the social media ‘fitspiration’ trend and holds a Graduate Certificate of Health Promotion. Michelle has experience in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. She is currently working on projects focused on young people’s health and risk behaviours, ‘fitspiration’ on social media and a mobile phone intervention for risky alcohol consumption in young adults.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference and to register your place please visit





Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *