UNF recruiting participants in binge-eating disorder study

Tierney Harvey

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Photo by Alexis Molinaro

Photo by Alexis Molinaro

UNF’s Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program is recruiting female participants for a binge-eating disorder (BED) study. The study aims to learn whether a Web-based video conferencing intervention could help treat patients with BED.

Jill Snyder is an instructor working on the study.  Photo by Tierney Harvey

Jill Snyder is an instructor working on the study. Photo by Tierney Harvey

“There is a limited number of providers that actually treat eating disorders,” Jill Snyder, a dietitian and instructor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics said. In her private practice, some patients traveled over an hour to see her.

Snyder said that if Web-based programs were more widely available, BED treatment programs could be more accessible. Web-based programs could provide the same benefit and quality of care as one-to-one or group treatments.

BED, according to Snyder, affects people of all ages, but is more prevalent in college-aged people.

The eating disorder occurs when someone frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food and feels that she or he is unable to stop eating. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, BED is the most common eating disorder. It affects 2 to 5 percent of the general population and approximately 3 million men and 5 million women in the United States.

“Sometimes, when students in particular are feeling stressed out, or they don’t want to deal with their emotions, it can be a coping mechanism,” Snyder said. “Usually around finals, we see an increase in students seeking treatment.”

Dr. Zhiping Yu is leading the study.  Photo by Tierney Harvey

Dr. Zhiping Yu is leading the study. Photo by Tierney Harvey

Dr. Zhiping Yu, a UNF assistant professor of nutrition, is the principal investigator of the upcoming study and has been researching eating disorders for 10 years. She said college could bring stress that can trigger an eating disorder.

“We hope to find an effective new method for eating disorder treatment,” Dr. Yu said.

Web-based treatment is a new technology being implemented in healthcare, Dr. Yu said, but there is limited evidence available. “We hope to investigate a little further in our eating disorder research and practice,” Dr. Yu said.

There are several research students assisting with the study. Senior Jesse LeMoon, a nutrition and dietetics major, got involved in the project last spring. He said he has gained insight in the amount of planning involved in conducting a study.

“When I read research articles, I can kind of relate to certain things–designs or methods or flaws in their research,” LeMoon said. “It’s been a great experience.”

The study is open to the public. Participants should be female, older than 18, have a body mass index of 25-40, a demonstrated binge-eating behavior and access to the Internet. Dr. Yu hopes to recruit 30-40 participants.

Anyone interested in participating should contact said Dr. Yu at [email protected] or by phone at (904) 620-5282.

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