UVa Studies Binge Eating and Drinking

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

September 15th, 2006

The University of Virginia is starting a new study. The goal is to find out if the urges that may lead to binge drinking and binge eating together can be controlled.

"I definitely see it as a prevalent problem in this college society. I feel like it's become such a part of our culture," said UVa 3rd year student, William Anderson.

The 'it' Anderson is talking about is binge drinking. Now a new study by the University of Virginia is looking at whether a drug called topiramate will help when it comes to drinking too much. The unique part - it will also focus on patients who binge eat.

"A common mechanism may be impulsivity, is that there is a lack of control over drinking and eating in these individuals, and therefore we're trying to test a new medication that may have an effect on impulsivity," said assistant UVa professor, Dr. Nassima Ait-Daoud.

Past research already shows that the drug helps reduce cravings for patients suffering from alcoholism and binge eating separately.
Researchers hope this 12 week study will show the same for the two combined.

"Now we want to look at this very vulnerable population of people who have both alcoholism and binge eating and see if topiramate will help them as well," said Dr. Ait-Daoud.

Some students say the study may be a good way to go.

"I feel like some type of medical solution to the problem might be the best idea, because a lot of times it's so overpowering that they can't get over it in any other way," said Anderson.

Others however are not so sure.

"I think it's good that they're doing studies on it. Any type of scientific advancement or scientific knowledge is a good thing. Do I necessarily think that they're attacking the cause of the problem? Personally I think the causes are more social," said 4th year UVa student, Paige Gottheim.

Researchers are just hoping the study will shed more light on ways to help control these sometimes out of control binges.

The study is open to anyone suffering from both binge eating and binge drinking. Researchers say they do expect to see a majority of college students and quite a number of females.

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