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Understanding eating behaviors to provide better support

Catherine Bégin helps people with dietary issues and eating disorders like anorexia or binge eating. She identifies their individual needs in order to provide them with personalized support.

Catherine Bégin

Full professor – School of Psychology at the Faculty of Social Sciences
Director, Centre d’expertise Poids, Image et Alimentation (CEPIA) 
Researcher at the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF) and the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute (IUCPQ)


Catherine Gagnon, PhD, psychologist
Anne-Sophie Ouellette, Ph.D, psychologist
Judith Petitpas, Master of Social Work, social worker
Marilou Coté, PhD, psychologist and research professional
Alexandra Bédard, nutritionist and research professional
Laurie Dufresne, PhD candidate 
Christopher Rodrigue, PhD candidate 
Audrey Cloutier-Bergeron, PhD candidate 
Maxime Legendre, PhD candidate 
All the other students who work in the laboratory

Understanding those who need help

To better understand people living with dietary issues, Catherine Bégin is working to establish standard profiles, the characteristics of which may affect how patients respond to treatment. She looks at things like whether someone has a food addiction or restriction, any negative effects, cognitive function, and personality. Next she compares how people with these profiles respond to specific interventions in order to separate those who respond well from those who do not.

Finding ways to intervene more effectively

An active contributor to the healthcare community, Professor Bégin seeks to optimize services for patients living with obesity and eating problems rather than treating them in isolation. In doing so, she helps improve the services offered, something she is passionate about. She also wants these manualized interventions, which control multiple external factors, apply to members of the community who seek assistance. At the same time, she is working on the development of innovative treatments based on the latest knowledge.

Bringing services to the community

Services offered at the Centre d’expertise Poids, Image et Alimentation (CEPIA), led by Professor Bégin, are based on the same optimization principle. Experts at CEPIA adopt a personalized approach so that interventions are tailored to each person. Assessment and research are core activities at the Centre, always with the goal of optimizing services available to the public. CEPIA is recognized within the healthcare community as a leading authority on binge eating, a disorder for which resources are sorely lacking.

Catherine Bégin recommends a balanced approach and the joy of eating rather than limitations and strict diets.

Binge eating is a little-known eating disorder in which people consume very large quantities of food without engaging in compensatory behaviours.

CEPIA provides services for people living with issues related to body image or food.

CEPIA is a teaching and research centre specializing in weight, image, and food issues that trains students and interns from a variety of fields.

What's next

Armed with a better understanding of patient profiles and what makes interventions successful, Dr. Bégin hopes to make a real difference in preventing dietary issues. Her upcoming research will focus on adolescence, because dietary issues often start to emerge in the teen years. Addressing the problem before it takes hold could affect how symptoms develop and prevent distress associated with dietary issues, weight, and body image in adulthood.

Centre d'expertise Poids, Image et Alimentation

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