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Compr Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;54(7):880-4. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2013.03.017. Epub 2013 Apr 29.

Substantial weight gains are common prior to treatment-seeking in obese patients with binge eating disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208098, New Haven, CT 06520-8098, USA. Electronic address:


This study examined weight trajectories in obese patients with binge eating disorder (BED) during the year prior to treatment initiation and explored potential correlates of these weight changes. One hundred thirty (N=130) consecutive, treatment-seeking, obese patients with BED were assessed with structured interviews and self-report questionnaires. Eighty-three percent (83%; n=108) of treatment seeking obese BED patients gained weight, and 65% (n=84) gained a clinically significant amount of weight (greater than or equal to 5% body weight), in the year preceding treatment. Overall, participants reported a mean percent weight gain of 8% (16.6 pounds) during the 12months prior to treatment with a wide range of weight changes across participants (from a 52% weight gain to a 13% weight loss). A substantial proportion of patients (35%), categorized as High Weight Gainers (defined as gaining more than 10% of body weight during previous year), reported gaining an average of 16.7% of body weight. Low Weight Gainers (defined as gaining greater than 5%, but less than 10%) comprised 29% of the sample and were characterized by a mean gain of 6.9% of body weight. Weight Maintainers/Losers (defined as having maintained or lost weight during the 12months prior to treatment) comprised 17% of the sample and reported losing on average 2.8% of body weight. These three groups did not differ significantly in their current weight and eating behaviors or eating disorder psychopathology. The majority of treatment-seeking obese patients with BED reported having gained substantial amounts of weight during the previous year. These findings provide an important context for interpreting the modest weight losses typically reported in treatment studies of BED. Failure to produce weight loss in these studies may be reinterpreted as stabilization of weight and prevention of further weight gain.

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