About This ProjectBinge eating disorder (BED) is a serious concern in young women that profoundly impacts physical, psychological, and social functioning. The growing prevalence of the condition and the chronic mental and physical health symptoms present a public health concern, yet current treatments for BED are insufficient. Therefore, the purpose of the project is to develop a novel intervention for young women with the condition.
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What is the context of this research?
BED is characterized by consuming a large quantity of food in a discrete period of time, being unable to control food consumption, and experiencing significant distress. It is the most prevalent eating disorder and the incidence of the condition appears to be on a upward trajectory.
Binge eating typically begins during late adolescence and disproportionately affects young women. BED occurs in 8.4% of female college students, and 44% of female college students report engaging in severe bingeing behavior. Given that binge eating is predictive of numerous adverse outcomes, and existing treatments only demonstrate a low to moderate reduction in symptoms, it is imperative to investigate novel treatments for binge eating behavior.
What is the significance of this project?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and cue-exposure therapy are both moderately efficacious in the treatment of binge eating behavior, but there are weaknesses in using either treatment in isolation. The proposed study plans to evaluate the effectiveness of a combination of cue-exposure therapy and ACT to reduce binge eating behavior.
Cue exposure techniques will force individuals to confront food cues that prompt binge eating, while ACT will teach individuals how to cope with the internal discomfort they feel prior to a binge episode. Additionally, ACT will address the maladaptive cognitions that underlie disordered eating behavior and incorporate mindfulness exercises. This integrated approach will enable us to build upon the existing strengths of each treatment approach.
What are the goals of the project?
The goals of this project are to:
- Develop a novel and acceptable treatment for young women with binge eating disorder.
- Implement the intervention in a randomized controlled trial to determine feasibility.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention relative to a control group on numerous psychological variables, such as emotion regulation skills, eating disorder cognitions, maladaptive eating behaviors, and quality of life.
We are requesting $2,850 to conduct a randomized controlled trial of our intervention.
These funds will be allotted for participant incentives for our intervention trial. The majority of these funds will be for participant incentives for assessments at different time points ($55 per participant; 50 participants; one $100 raffle). Additionally, we are requesting $500 for supplies related to participant recruitment as this is a challenging population to recruit for interventions.
Meet the Team
Team BioSuzanne Mazzeo, PhD (Left in photo) is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics at VCU and a licensed Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Mazzeo has expertise in the areas of obesity and eating disorders. Dr. Mazzeo has conducted several projects specifically focused on disparities in obesity and eating problems, including binge eating. Dr. Mazzeo is the Principal Investigator on this study and will be responsible for the overall administration and direction of the project.
Melissa Kwitowski, BA (top-right in photo) and Courtney Simpson, BA (bottom-right in photo) are co-Investigators on this project. Melissa and Courtney are doctoral level Psychology graduate students in Suzanne Mazzeo’s healthy lifestyles lab at VCU, who have experience leading obesity intervention group sessions and conducting research on women’s health issues.
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