Binge eating is an epidemic problem in the United States, and it is one of the main factors that causes obesity among the population. For years, binge eaters have sought to treat the obesity or weight gain, which is actually a symptom of the problem, by enrolling in weight-loss programs. However, researchers now believe that the underlying cause of binge eating has to do with the binge eater’s mental health, which might be treatable using cognitive behavioral therapy.
Researchers took two groups of women with the average age of thirty-seven and gave one group guided self-treatment. This self-treatment included working with the book “Overcoming Binge Eating”, authored by Dr. Christopher Fairman, and sessions with a special health educator, while the control group only had access to managed-care therapy such as nutritional counseling and weight management. Each group kept written logs of their binges and the emotions they had preceding them for the twelve-week program period. It is believed that for binge eaters, food is used as a coping mechanism to soothe emotional pain from relationship difficulties. The results of the study showed that sixty-three percent of the experimental group had stopped bingeing a year after starting the program, while only twenty-eight percent of the control group had ceased overating.
It is suspected that the experimental group’s access to a health educator was important in the outcome of the study, because the educator can act as a counselor to help the patients discover for themselves what triggers their overeating. However, the self-help book included in the group’s treatment plan can help those people who want to tackle treating their binge eating on their own.
These results were very encouraging for potential patients who do not have the financial resources to counteract their binge eating with more expensive medical interventions, which can sometimes include prescriptions of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.