Binge eating disorder treatment: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Int J Eat Disord. 2007 May;40(4):337-48. doi: 10.1002/eat.20370.


Objective: The Research Triangle Institute-University of North Carolina Evidence Based Practice Center (RTI-EPC) systematically reviewed evidence on efficacy of treatment for binge eating disorder (BED), harms associated with treatments, factors associated with treatment efficacy, and differential outcome by sociodemographic characteristics.

Method: We searched six major databases for studies on the treatment of BED published from 1980 to September, 2005, in all languages against a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria and focused on eating, psychiatric or psychological, or biomarker outcomes.

Results: Twenty-six studies, including medication-only, medication plus behavioral intervention, and behavioral intervention only designs, met inclusion criteria. The strength of the evidence for medication and behavioral interventions was moderate, for self-help and other interventions was weak, for treatment-related harms was strong, for factors associated with efficacy of treatment was weak, and for differential outcome by sociodemographic factors was nonexistent. Individual or group CBT reduces binge eating and improves abstinence rates for up to 4 months after treatment but does not lead to weight loss. Medications may play a role in treating BED patients.

Conclusion: The literature regarding treatment efficacy for BED is variable. Future directions include the identification of optimal interventions that are associated with both sustained abstinence from binge eating and permanent weight loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic