Public perceptions of binge eating and its treatment
About this resource
OBJECTIVE: Attitudes and beliefs concerning a binge eating problem were examined in a community sample of men and women (n = 1031) aged 15 to 94 years. METHOD: A vignette describing a fictional 32-year-old female obese binge eater was presented, followed by a series of questions concerning the nature and treatment of the problem described. RESULTS: Most participants believed that binge eating is primarily a problem of low self-esteem or depression. Behavioral weight loss treatment and self-help interventions were the treatments considered most helpful, whereas few participants believed that psychotherapy would be helpful. General practitioners and dieticians were the treatment providers considered most helpful. Most participants were ambivalent about prognosis given treatment and pessimistic about outcome in the absence of treatment. CONCLUSION: The fact that binge eating is viewed primarily as a problem of negative affect, and that specific psychotherapy is not highly regarded as a treatment, may go some way to explaining why most individuals with binge eating-type disorders do not receive appropriate treatment. The benefits of specific psychotherapy in stabilizing eating behavior and improving quality of life for obese binge eaters need to be communicated to sufferers and to the health professionals they are likely to contact.
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