Date of Conferral
In the past 30 years, binge eating and obesity has increased among all age groups due to lifestyle, environment, social, and biological reasons. To change eating habits, individuals may have to collaborate with others beyond the medical professional. Societal impacts of binge eating and obesity include increases in insurance rates, medical costs, and increased early-age mortality. The purposes of this study were to assess how individuals are referred to other professionals if they self-identify as binge eaters or obese and to understand personal awareness individuals had of binge eating and obesity. Cognitive behavioral theory was used as the theoretical foundation. A quantitative, non experimental design was used with a nonrandom convenience sampling of residents in a northern US state aged 18 years and older. 166 participants completed a demographic questionnaire and the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26). Chi square analyses indicated a significant relationship between individuals who were obese and the lack of referral to another professional beyond the primary care physician. Individuals over identified with binge eating based on elevated EAT-26 scores, and under identified with obesity based on identifying with lower BMI categories than those set by the American Medical Association. Implications for positive social change include an increased awareness of binge eating and obesity, which can result in reduced medical costs and healthier lifestyles. Prevention and intervention programs can be developed to educate children, parents, and communities about lifestyle choices.