Examining binge eating
Participants invited to take part in self-help program
Dr. Jacqueline Carter-Major and her team of researchers at Memorial University are inviting people who struggle with binge eating to take part in a new treatment study.
Carter-Major is a psychologist and associate professor in Memorial’s Department of Psychology. The study is open to people throughout the province. It is a new self-help program so in-person attendance at appointments is not necessary.
Carter- Major describes binge eating disorder ( BED) as a serious and common but under-recognized and underdiagnosed mental health problem that causes a great deal of stress, shame, guilt and regret.
“When people go to their doctor and complain about what might be a binge eating disorder, the doctor might not recognize what is going on and that it’s not just over indulgence or overeating . . .it’s actually a mental health issue,” she explained.
Like other eating disorders and mental health disorders, she noted, BED results from a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.
The disorder is much more than the occasional indulgence.
“We all overeat from time to time, that’s normal,” she said. “But, people who struggle with binge eating feel that they’ve lost control over their eating.”
Carter- Major said many people with BED, in addition to feeling out of control with their eating, also worry about their weight.
Previous research has found that eight per cent of adults whose weight is in the obese range have BED. However, Carter- Major said, not all people with the disorder are obese.
Based on prevalence studies in other regions, it’s estimated that at least 14,000 people in this province suffer from binge eating problems.
Carter-Major said there are no publicly funded specialized treatment services for people who suffer from binge eating.
She said the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador ( a leadership advocacy group that promotes research and provides public support services and information about eating disorders) does an excellent job providing services to people with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. However, she said, the foundation does not currently have the resources to offer specialized treatment services for BED.
People with BED need a different approach to their disorder than those suffering from other eating disorders, she said.
Carter- Major noted while there are a lot of people in this province suffering with BED — unless they can afford to pay for private therapy with a psychologist or have extended health care insurance to cover that cost — evidence has shown that self-help approaches can be helpful to people with BED.
“People can help themselves if they have solid education, advice and education and strategies and tools to help them understand why they binge eat and to help them develop other ways of coping with stress and other ways of comforting themselves that don’t involve food,” Carter-Major said.
The NL Centre for Applied Health Research is funding the study.
Researchers are hoping to recruit 75 men and women between the ages of 19 and 65 into the study.
For information on the study e- mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Jacqueline Carter-Major