Adolescents' perception of the severity of binge eating disorder: a population-based study

Rebecca Anderson*, Kassandra Gratwick-Sarll, Caroline Bentley, Carmel Harrison, Jonathan Mond

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Binge eating disorder (BED) is relatively common in young people and is associated with marked impairment in physical and mental health.Aims: We examined perceptions of the severity of BED in a population-based sample of adolescents.Methods: Male (n = 531) and female (n = 1135) adolescents recruited from 12 Australian schools completed a survey that featured a vignette of a fictional female school student suffering from BED followed by a series of questions addressing perceptions of severity.Results: Approximately half of participants agreed or strongly agreed that BED is a serious problem (male: 52.0%; female: 63.2%) requiring professional treatment (male: 48.2%; female: 54.5%). Approximately one-third of boys (30.7%) believed that BED is primarily a problem of "lack of will power/self-control", whereas one in five girls (19.3%) held this view. Less than half of participants (male: 42.7%; female: 44.1%) believed that someone with BED would be deserving of sympathy.Conclusion: The findings suggest that many adolescents, boys in particular, do not consider BED to be a serious mental health problem and believe that individuals with BED lack will-power and/or are undeserving of sympathy. Awareness and understanding of BED may need to be addressed in school-based mental health promotion programs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16-22
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Mental Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


    • Adolescents
    • binge eating disorder
    • severity
    • mental health literature


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