A Survey of Binge Eating and Obesity Treatment Practices among Primary Care Providers

Scott J. Crow, Carol B. Peterson, Allen S Levine, Paul Thuras, James E. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objectives: Obesity is an increasingly prevalent condition and many obese individuals binge eat. It is unclear how much knowledge physicians possess regarding binge eating, but the limited existing data suggest that primary care physicians frequently do not identify obesity as a clinical problem. The objective of this study was to examine physician knowledge and treatment recommendations regarding binge eating and obesity. Method: A survey on binge eating and obesity assessment and treatment was mailed to 700 licensed physicians. The survey was returned by 272 (38.9%) respondents. Results: Greater than 40% of physicians never assessed binge eating. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated "often or always" by 36.2% of physicians and "rarely or never" by 39.7%. The pattern of obesity treatment methods offered by providers was quite different from the pattern of treatment requested by their patients. Physicians who made higher estimates of binge eating prevalence were more likely to make treatment referrals. Discussion: In this study, physicians frequently did not assess binge eating. Only a minority of physicians utilize BMI in the assessment and management of obesity. Also, physicians report that the obesity treatments they recommend differ from the treatments patients request of them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Binge eating
  • Obesity
  • Primary care providers
  • Treatment practices


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