Would glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists have efficacy in binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa? A review of the current literature

Med Hypotheses. 2018 Feb:111:90-93. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2017.12.029. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Binge eating, eating an abnormally large amount of food in a discrete period of time with a sense of loss of control over eating, is a defining feature of the eating disorders binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN). Both BED and BN are important public health problems for which there are few medical treatments. However, almost all drugs with central nervous system-mediated weight loss properties studied thus far in randomized, placebo-controlled trials in persons with BED or BN have been efficacious for reducing binge eating behavior. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, marketed for type 2 diabetes and chronic weight management, produce weight loss in a dose dependent manner and have favorable psychiatric adverse event profiles. We hypothesize that GLP-1 receptor agonists will safely reduce binge eating behavior in individuals with BED or BN, including those with co-occurring psychiatric disorders, and propose that randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of GLP-1 receptor agonists be conducted in persons with BED and those with BN. To support this hypothesis, we review studies of GLP-1 and GLP-1 receptor agonists in preclinical models of binge eating, studies of GLP-1 levels in individuals with BED or BN, and preliminary data of GLP-1 receptor agonists in humans with abnormal eating behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / drug therapy*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor