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Tennis legend Billie Jean King Reveals Use of Weight Loss Medication for Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Tennis legend Billie Jean King Reveals Use of Weight Loss Medication for Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
  • Tennis legend Billie Jean King revealed she has been struggling with binge eating disorder (BED) for decades. 
  • To manage her condition, she recently started using weight loss medication, hoping to reduce intrusive thoughts about food.
  • While some experts believe weight loss drugs can be effective for BED patients, others warn they should be used in conjunction with therapy and not as a standalone treatment.

In a recent episode of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Wiser Than Me podcast, tennis legend Billie Jean King shared her journey of using weight loss medication to address her binge eating disorder (BED), revealing that her doctor had recently recommended it. King, 80, disclosed that she has had a few injections and is monitoring the impact on her relationship with food. While she referred to Ozempic as a general term for weight loss drugs, she did not specify the exact medication she was using.

Billie Jean King’s Struggle with Binge Eating Disorder

In her 2021 memoir, “All In,” King candidly discussed her battle with eating disorders. She revealed that she was diagnosed with BED at the age of 51, describing the condition as a loss of control over eating behavior, characterized by consuming large amounts of food in a short period followed by feelings of guilt or shame. King attributed her eating disorder to various factors, including her public outing in 1981, which led her to grapple with her sexuality. The pressure to maintain a strict diet as an elite athlete also contributed to her struggles. Seeking help, King underwent six weeks of inpatient treatment at The Renfrew Center in Philadelphia in 1995, which initiated her recovery journey. Despite ongoing therapy, she continues to manage her eating disorder.

King admits to experiencing constant battles in her mind over food. She described having two conflicting voices—one urging her to indulge and the other advocating for restraint. This internal struggle, known as “food noise,” can be overwhelming and exhausting. King emphasized the importance of quieting these thoughts, which led her to consider weight loss medication.

What is ‘Food Noise’?

“Food noise” refers to intrusive thoughts about food that individuals find distressing. It often involves constantly thinking about the next meal, deliberating over food choices, or obsessing over cravings. Dr. Melanie Jay, director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Program on Obesity, explains that these thoughts can be indicative of an eating disorder or a response to dieting, excessive exercise, or food insecurity.

Are Weight Loss Medications Effective for BED?

Dr. Jennifer Kraker, a psychiatrist specializing in metabolic health and eating disorders, has found weight loss medications to be highly effective for treating BED. These medications, such as liraglutide and semaglutide, work by suppressing appetite and reducing the release of dopamine associated with eating, helping patients regain control over their eating habits. While studies on their effectiveness are limited, early results are promising. However, experts like Dr. Jay caution that more research is needed to ensure these medications do not worsen eating disorders.

Billie Jean King’s openness about her struggle with binge eating disorder and her use of weight loss medication sheds light on the complexity of eating disorders and the importance of seeking comprehensive treatment. While medications can be a helpful component, they are not a standalone solution. A multidisciplinary approach that includes therapy and dietary support is crucial for long-term recovery.

Tags: Billie Jean King, binge eating disorder treatment, weight loss medication, eating disorder therapy, mental health treatment, sports icons, celebrity health,elite athlete struggles, mental health awareness, eating disorder recovery

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