Objective: Although binge eating disorder is a common and distressing concomitant of obesity, it has not yet been established whether affected individuals presenting to behavioral weight control programs should receive specialized treatments to supplement standard treatment. This study was designed to examine the added benefit of two adjunctive interventions, individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and fluoxetine, offered in the context of group behavioral weight control treatment.
Research methods and procedures: One hundred sixteen overweight/obese women and men with binge eating disorder were all assigned to receive a 16-session group behavioral weight control treatment over 20 weeks. Simultaneously, subjects were randomly assigned to receive CBT+fluoxetine, CBT+placebo, fluoxetine, or placebo in a two-by-two factorial design. Outcome measures, assessed at the end of the 16-session acute treatment phase, included binge frequency, weight, and measures of eating-related and general psychopathology.
Results: Overall, subjects showed substantial improvement in binge eating and both general and eating-related psychopathology, but little weight loss. Subjects who received individual CBT improved more in binge frequency than did those not receiving CBT (p<0.001), and binge abstinence was significantly more common in subjects receiving CBT vs. those who did not (62% vs. 33%, p<0.001). Fluoxetine treatment was associated with greater reduction in depressive symptoms (p<0.05). The 54 subjects who achieved binge abstinence improved more on all measures than the 62 subjects who did not. In particular, these subjects lost, on average, 6.2 kg compared with a gain of 0.7 kg among non-abstainers.
Discussion: Adjunctive individual CBT results in significant additional binge reduction in obese binge eaters receiving standard behavioral weight control treatment.