Treatment for binge eating

Experts agree that binge eating treatment must tackle obesity and psychological problems. However, they’re still debating which aspect to treat first.

People with binge eating disorder have distorted attitudes about eating, weight and shape. They also have mood-related symptoms, such as depression and personality disorders.

Not surprisingly, experts on eating disorders say the best treatment focuses on the eating disorder. Their goal is to help patients reduce or eliminate bingeing, improve their self-esteem and acceptance of their bodies and treat underlying problems such as depression and anxiety.

Advocates of this approach say addressing the psychological problems that cause the condition will eliminate binge eating and help patients feel better about themselves.

They call for treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy, which addresses a person’s eating-related thoughts and behaviors, and interpersonal psychotherapy, which helps a person develop healthier relationships.

Weight loss, these experts say, will follow.

In contrast, obesity experts say it’s best to tackle the weight problem first. Treatment that targets obesity directly is typically less expensive and shorter in duration than psychological treatment, they say.

The best treatment approaches combine both psychological and weight-loss components, say other researchers.