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Applying Stages of Change Model to Examine Online Peer Communication on Binge Eating

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Despite the distress and disruption associated with eating disorder (ED), people struggling with EDs are often ambivalent about their eating issues and unmotivated for recovery. Rather than seek professional help, these people tend to turn to online ED groups for information and support. Using the stages of change model, this study investigates the characteristics of online peer communication around binging vis-à-vis participants’ motivation and readiness for behavioral change. Our results illustrate how individuals with binging issues in different motivational stages discuss their problematic eating online and provides insights into their ambivalence toward treatment and relapses into binging. This study further clarifies how people with binging issues feel trapped in a cycle of dieting-binging, which is observed to be undergirded by unresolved weight-related issues, and how they cope with the stressful relationship between eating and body weight through their postings on social media. These findings suggest that healthcare providers should promote healthier methods of addressing the weight gain from binge eating and provide support tailored to individuals’ motivational stage in breaking the dieting-binging cycle.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, 2: School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University,

Publication date: November 10, 2023

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