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Obes Res. 2004 May;12(5):758-60.

Appearance vs. health reasons for seeking treatment among obese patients with binge eating disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, 301 Cedar Street, PO Box 208098, New Haven, CT 06520-8090, USA.



This study examined reasons for seeking treatment reported by obese patients diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED).


Participants were 248 adults (58 men and 190 women) who met DSM criteria for BED. Participants were recruited through advertisements for treatment studies looking for persons who wanted to "stop binge eating and lose weight." Patients' reasons for seeking treatment were examined with respect to demography (gender and age), obesity (BMI and age of onset), features of eating disorders, and associated psychological functioning (depression and self-esteem).


Of the 248 participants, 64% reported health concerns and 36% reported appearance concerns as their primary reason for seeking treatment. Reasons for seeking treatment did not differ significantly by gender. Patients seeking treatment because of appearance-related reasons had lower BMIs than those reporting health-related reasons (34.8 vs. 38.5, respectively), but they reported greater body dissatisfaction, more features of eating disorders, and lower self-esteem.


Reasons that prompt treatment seeking among obese individuals with BED reflect meaningful patient characteristics and, therefore, warrant assessment and consideration during treatment planning. Further research is needed to determine whether reasons for treatment seeking among different obese patient groups affect treatment outcomes.

Copyright 2004 NAASO

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