Randomized controlled trial comparing smartphone assisted versus traditional guided self-help for adults with binge eating

Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Nov;50(11):1313-1322. doi: 10.1002/eat.22781. Epub 2017 Sep 27.


Objective: Guided self-help treatments based on cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT-GSH) are efficacious for binge eating. With limited availability of CBT-GSH in the community, mobile technology offers a means to increase use of these interventions. The purpose of this study was to test the initial efficacy of Noom Monitor, a smartphone application designed to facilitate CBT-GSH (CBT-GSH + Noom), on study retention, adherence, and eating disorder symptoms compared to traditional CBT-GSH.

Method: Sixty-six men and women with DSM-5 binge-eating disorder (BED) or bulimia nervosa (BN) were randomized to receive eight sessions of CBT-GSH + Noom (n = 33) or CBT-GSH (n = 33) over 12 weeks. Primary symptom outcomes were eating disorder examination objective bulimic episodes (OBEs), subjective bulimic episodes (SBEs), and compensatory behaviors. Assessments were collected at 0, 4, 8, 12, 24, and 36 weeks. Behavioral outcomes were modeled using zero-inflated negative-binomial latent growth curve models with intent-to-treat.

Results: There was a significant effect of treatment on change in OBEs (β = -0.84, 95% CI = -1.49, -0.19) favoring CBT-GSH + Noom. Remission rates were not statistically different between treatments for OBEs (βlogit = -0.73, 95% CI = -1.86, 3.27; CBT-GSH-Noom = 17/27, 63.0% vs. CBT-GSH 11/27, 40.7%, NNT = 4.5), but CBT-GSH-Noom participants reported greater meal and snack adherence and regular meal adherence mediated treatment effects on OBEs. The treatments did not differ at the 6-month follow-up.

Discussion: Smartphone applications for the treatment binge eating appear to have advantages for adherence, a critical component of treatment dissemination.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02399982.

Keywords: binge-eating disorder; bulimia nervosa; guided self-help; smartphone; technology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Help Groups / standards*
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02399982