Study Underscores the Need for Men to Be Treated for Binge Eating

Ann Arbor, MICH. — March 29, 2012 — A new study, published in the March 2012 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, found that the prevalence of binge eating is as common in men as in women. The results of the prevalence study, which is one of the few to include men, also indicate that men and women who binge eat experience comparable levels of clinical impairment. Additionally, men are under-represented in clinical trials designed to test the efficacy of treatments for binge eating.

The study, conducted by Wellness & Prevention, Inc., evaluated HealthMedia® Health Risk Assessment (HRA) responses of 46,351 adult employees. Health care plans and employers deployed the HRA questionnaires to their employees as part of their population health offerings and/or health benefit structure.

The study results provide evidence on the burden of illness experienced by binge eating individuals, with binge eating being associated with depression, obesity, and work productivity impairment. Ruth Striegel, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University and lead author of this study, explained that the innovation of this project derives, in part, from a focus on work productivity impairment. “With few exceptions, previous studies have examined impairment in a much broader range of life roles such as work, family, and friendships. Many employers already offer resources to help employees change various health risk behaviors, yet binge eating has not been among the behaviors to be targeted for change,” she said. “This study illustrates that binge eating is associated with diminished work productivity and that, therefore, employees might benefit from programs that help them overcome this problem.”

According to Richard Bedrosian, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health and Solution Development at Wellness & Prevention, Inc. and one of the co-authors of the study, these results indicate that efforts are needed to raise awareness of the clinical significance of binge eating in men so that they can receive appropriate screening and treatment services. “This demonstrates the need to target men for interventions aimed at reducing or preventing binge eating,” he said. “Since men may be reluctant to come forward, online programs, such as digital health coaching, may be more appealing to men than traditional face-to-face treatments.”

Digital health coaching emulates a behavioral health coaching session, without the coach, to deliver an individually personalized binge eating management plan. Digital health coaching programs are private and convenient (available 24/7), and can be cost-effectively scaled to entire populations. To date, more than 28,000 people have participated in the HealthMedia® Overcoming™ Binge Eating digital health coaching program — offered by Wellness & Prevention, Inc. — and 30 percent of those participants are male. Additionally, more than 85 percent of the male participants had not received treatment previously for an eating disorder.

According to Dr. Bedrosian, these findings demonstrate that men should receive an equal focus when conducting research about and developing treatments for eating disorders.

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About Wellness & Prevention, Inc. Wellness & Prevention, Inc., helps organizations renew the health, energy, and performance of their employees and members, and offers an integrated portfolio of solutions to cover the full spectrum of population health — from wellness and prevention, to behavioral health, to chronic disease support. These solutions include culture of health assessments and programs, on-site health screenings, Energy for Performance training, health risk assessments, user portals, incentive solutions, Digital Health Coaching, telephonic coaching, on-site health coaching, participation and engagement strategies and programs, outcomes reporting, and data analytics. Wellness & Prevention solutions are supported by a unique, integrated, and scalable approach designed to help lower health care costs, drive business performance, and enhance employee satisfaction and success. For more information, visit

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Caren Kenney
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