The Efficacy of Psychological Therapies in Reducing Weight and Binge Eating in People with Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder Who Are Overweight or Obese-A Critical Synthesis and Meta-Analyses

Nutrients. 2017 Mar 17;9(3):299. doi: 10.3390/nu9030299.


Recurrent binge eating episodes, the core feature of Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED), are frequently comorbid with obesity. Psychological interventions, notably Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are effective for binge eating reduction in BED or BN but less so for weight loss. Behavioural Weight Loss Therapy (BWLT) shows effectiveness for binge eating reduction and weight loss but the latter appears poorly sustained over time. Our aim was to review evidence for efficacy of psychological therapies for BN/BED associated with overweight or obesity in reducing binge frequency and weight. A systematic search for randomized controlled trials with adult samples who had BN or BED was conducted considering articles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese with no restrictions for the timeline publication ending in March 2016. A quality appraisal of the trials and meta-analyses comparing BWLT to CBT were done. This review identified 2248 articles for screening and 19 published articles were selected. No trials of BN were identified. This review found CBT was favoured compared to BWLT with regard to short-term binge eating reduction. However, insufficient evidence was found for superiority for BWLT efficacy compared to CBT considering binge eating remission, reduction of binge eating frequency and weight loss. More research is needed to test the efficacy of psychological treatments for BED or BN with co-morbid overweight or obesity, including trials evaluating binge eating remission and weight loss in the long-term.

Keywords: binge eating; obesity; psychotherapy; weight management.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / therapy*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / psychology*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic