scientific study

More Clinical Studies for Binge Eating, Bulimia and Anorexia

After I posted about clinical trials a couple of weeks ago, I began thinking that I’m sure a lot of you would be interested in getting involved in some clinical trials for binge eating and or bulimia. What is a clinical study you ask?  Researchers are trying everyday to figure out better ways to treat eating disorders. So, they form hypotheses that certain kinds of therapy or certain types of drugs or combinations of psychotherapy and pharmacological intervention can help. Then, they have to actually test these hypotheses. That’s where you come in. They recruit a certain number of people for a set time to test their drugs or their non-drug therapies to see if they work. The drugs aren’t new experimental drugs (usually) they are most often pharmaceuticals that have been around for a long time. But as of right now, there is no drug used for the specific cause of binge eating.

So what do you get? You get free therapy, free pharmaceuticals, the chance to heal your binge eating or bulimia and the opportunity to contribute to a larger purpose– a way to heal eating disorders. In some cases you get paid too. But not all.

So here is a list of studies, where they are and how to contact them.

1. Located in New Haven, CT– This study will test the effectiveness of two empirically-supported but distinct treatments for recurrent binge eating in obese patients: 1) Cognitive Behavior Therapy, using a pure self-help approach and 2) sibutramine, an anti-obesity medication also found to have efficacy for binge eating. Self-help Cognitive Behavior Therapy and sibutramine will be administered alone and in combination in a primary care setting.

 For more information or to see if you qualify contact Rachel Barnes at 203-785-6396

2.Located in Palo Alto, CA--Guided Self Help for Binge Eating–The proposed study will employ a randomized design to evaluate the efficacy of two group-based guided self-help treatments: Integrative Response Therapy (IRT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy Guided Self-Help, a treatment of known efficacy, in group-format (CBT-GSHg) in the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), and explore (1) moderators and mediators of treatment, (2) the relative cost-effectiveness of the two treatments, and (3) between group differences on secondary measures (e.g., eating disorder and general psychopathology).

For more information or to see if you qualify, contact Athena Robinson, 650-736-0943

3. Located in Montpellier, France– The objective of this project is to assess whether a program of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) under high frequency at the left DLPFC reduces bulimic symptoms in the short term. To do this we will count the number of binge during the 15 days following the last session of rTMS.

4. Throughout the United States– Sponsorer University of Cincinnati– The use of a certain drug vs. a placebo in moderate to severe binge eating disorder. Contact  Shire Call Center 1-866-842-5335

5. Located in Palo Alto, CA-– For adolescents with bulimia– compares family therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of bulimia. James Lock, MD, PhD(650) 723-5473

6. Located in Richmond, VA–This study aims to develop a manualized and culturally sensitive intervention for adolescent girls targeting binge and loss of control (LOC) eating. The investigators will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention in a controlled pilot trial. The investigators hypothesize that this intervention will serve to reduce binge and LOC eating, as well as improve psychosocial functioning as evidenced by decreased depression, anxiety, eating disorder cognitions, and impulsivity, and improved quality of life.  Contact:  Nichole R Kelly, M.S.804.827.9244

7. Located in Pittsburgh, PA— For the treatment of bulimia, this study aims to compare two forms of CBT: face-to-face group therapy and online group therapy via cbt4bn.orgContact: Sara Hofmeier 919-966-2882

8. Located in New York City--The aim of this project is to use both functional MRI (fMRI) and behavioral measures to investigate how disturbances in frontostriatal neural systems contribute to the impulsive and habitual binge-eating behaviors in patients with Bulimia Nervosa. Findings from this study will have wide-ranging importance for our understanding of the development and treatment of Bulimia.

Contact: Eating Disorder Clinic – 212-543-5739 

or Naomi Greenburg  212-543-6072

9. Located in New York City- This study will evaluate whether people with bulimia nervosa will binge eat in a structured laboratory setting and display behavioral patterns similar to those of individuals who are dependent on drugs.

Contact: Eating Disorder Clinic – 212-543-5739 

10. Located in Mason, OH- The purpose of this research study is to study the effectiveness, tolerability and safety of armodafinil in outpatients with binge eating disorder.  Contact: Susan McElroy, MD or Anna Guerdjikova, PhD

11.Chapel Hill, NC-  For the Latin American population suffering with eating disorders. Promoviendo Alimentacion Saludable (PAS)”Promoting Healthy Eating” is a research project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The purpose of this study is to develop and test a treatment for eating disorders in Latina adults that is appropriate for their age and includes culturally appropriate family intervention.

Contact: Mae Lynn Reyes, Ph.D.     919-966-7358 

12. New York City– For people who engage both in bulimia and heavy drinking- Participants will be asked to complete computer-administered and paper-and-pencil assessments and two laboratory test meals on separate days. By probing the underpinnings of BN and alcohol use disorders, the investigators can determine whether these disorders have a shared diathesis, which will lay an essential foundation for future research to examine biological and genetic correlates of these disorders. Finally, as little is known about the treatment of patients with BN and a co-occurring alcohol use disorder, an exploratory aim of the current study is evaluate the suitability and efficacy of a 20-session cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) addressing both bulimic symptoms and alcohol use.

Contact: Robyn Sysko, Ph.D.     212-543-5739   

Contact: Robyn Sysko, Ph.D.     212-543-5739   

13. Located in Gentofte, Denmark.  This study has 5 months of group therapy. The trial aims to investigate the impact of continuous feedback on dropout and outcome in group therapy. The hypothesis is that continuous feedback to patient and therapist on treatment progress and alliance will 1) reduce the number of dropouts and 2) increase treatment outcome.

Contact: Marianne E Lau, D.Sci. +453864531 —  or 

Annika H Davidsen, MSc. Psych. +4538645300


You can also go to and search under “binge eating, florida” or “anorexia, new york” or “bulimia, california” etc. Type in the type of study you’re interested in and the location. Definitely add to the comments if you find anything of note. 



Participate in a Clinical Research Study on Binge Eating

I read about this study today, but I’m afraid I don’t have any specific information about it. I’m still waiting for a call back, but when I learn more, I’ll update this post. Meanwhile, this is what I know:

Pacific Research Partners in Berkeley is conducting a study on Binge Eating. If you suffer from binge episodes at least three days per week, contact them to see if you qualify for the study.  Qualified participants receive study related evaluation,  study medication, and compensation for time and travel.

If you want to find out more, contact Pacific Research Partners at 877-602-5777 and find them online.


Again, I can’t vouch for this study, I know nothing about it, but if you’re in the SF Bay Area and suffering from BED, you might want to call and see if this is something that is a good fit for you.


Good luck. And if anyone gets through and has more information, please feel free to post in the comments section. Thanks!

Friday Q & A – I’m out of control with food and I feel helpless

Why can't i just get back on my diet?

This question comes to us from Aubrey in Missouri.


On July 19th this last year (two years after my brother’s car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury) I decided that I was going to change my life. I was 206 pounds, a *tight* size 15, and completely unhappy with my body. My goal weight was 140 pounds and I couldn’t wait to get started. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I have a rare condition called Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis. The condition makes it nearly impossible for me to exercise since I have it so badly. Whenever I get too hot or exercise enough to get hot I begin to go into anaphylactic shock (my throat and face swell, my skin gets red, and I struggle to breathe). Obviously, I knew that working out probably wasn’t the best choice for me, but I continued to stay on my 1500 calories a day diet. 

Eating healthy wasn’t always easy, but I stuck with it. Finally, I got down to 158 and a comfortable size 11. I was extremely proud of myself and my confidence levels were higher than ever! It was then that things started to get tough for me in my personal life, so I decided that I would take 5 days off of my diet. I continued to eat fairly healthy (outside of my one meal from Mcdonald’s). Although, I have to admit that I was eating an excessive amount of food, even if it was healthier food. Once I got back onto my diet things were so much harder. Suddenly I found myself going back into my old binging habits. I would eat only 1000 calories a day for a week, then I would fall off the wagon and eat 10,000 calories in a day. Now, I’m trying to control it, but it feels like the monster is out of it’s cage. I haven’t lost weight for months, and I’m back up to 170 pounds. 
I feel helpless. The worse I feel, the worse I feel the need to binge. The cycle has started again and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to get back on track and lose more weight, but it feels like I can’t. It was so difficult for me to get this far, and now I feel like I’m just going backwards. I don’t want to struggle with my disorder like I used to. I just want to be beautiful and healthy.

Hi Aubrey. First off, I want to say that I’m very, very sorry to hear about your brother’s accident. What a horribly tragedy. I’m sure that watching him go through this has been incredibly difficult for you and for your family on many different levels.  I do hope that you’re getting support for this.
First off, try to take a breath and calm down a bit. You lost almost 50 pounds, and you’ve only put 12 back on. This is salvageable and you don’t have to go back to where you were.
Sometimes, in an effort to “catch up,” or compensate for a binge, people will do things like reduce calories dramatically. Like you say that some weeks you only eat 1000 calories per day. That’s not sustainable. It’s not healthy and it will lead to one of two things– anorexia and loss of menstruation and eventual organ failure, or binge eating. Binge eating is usually the more common of the two because bodies will do what they can to survive.
In 1944, the University of Minnesota conducted a study  called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment which was done to learn about the effects of starvation and how to rehab those who were victims. For that they created a controlled famine.
Here’s the gist of it:
For 3 months, each participant was give 3,200 calories per day — which helped them to achieve or maintain their ideal weight.
For the next 6 months, each participant was given on average 1560 calories per day– which was considered semi-starvation. This amount of calories caused severe weight loss in people who were at their ideal weights. The idea was to induce people at their ideal weight lose 25% of their weight. So a 175 pound man would go down to 130 pounds. Pretty extreme.
For the next 3 months, each participant was given a controlled amount of calories to help them heal from their 6 months of starvation.
For the next 2 months, each participant was given the ability to eat whatever they wanted in unrestricted and uncontrolled amounts. Which resulted in bingeing and a preoccupation with food.
The results of the experiment showed that the participants experienced food obsession, binge eating,  severe depression, and there was even self-harm when one of the participants  amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe.  Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation They also  reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities.
So, why do I share this? Because I think that this mirrors your process in some ways. You went on a strict 1500 calorie per day diet and lost approximately 25% of your weight on it. You then went off of it and when you tried to go back, you became preoccupied with food.
So, that doesn’t mean that this is hopeless. Your ability to eat healthy is definitely intact.
Right now, in this very moment, make a decision to stop looking back right now and begin to look forward. Don’t try to make up for the weight that you’ve put back on, this will put you on a horrible roller coaster (like the 1000 calories per day some days and 10,000 calories per day on others.)
1.Stop counting calories.  When you do, you put unrealistic constraints on yourself. If you decide to eat 1500 calories per day, and then you accidentally eat 1800 that day, you might find that your mind decides that you “ruined” it and that you wind up eating another 3000-5000 calories.
2.Decide that you are going to begin to love and respect your body and give it what it needs. Give yourself a variety of fruits, vegetable, grains, meats, dairy, whatever it is that your individual body needs.
3.Practice Intuitive eating– give your body the foods that it needs to run efficiently.
4.If you find that you would prefer to continue counting, I say to use a hunger and satiety scale.
        -Decide that you will eat 3 meals per day and snacks if you need them.
        -Rate your hunger on a scale from 1-10-. 1 being so hungry you could pass out,  5 being totally neutral and 10 being so full you    could throw up.
        -Don’t ever let yourself get so hungry that you’re under a 3- try to eat at a 3-4.
        -Before you eat, check in with yourself and see how hungry you are. Write that number down in a journal.
        -Try to eat slowly. Very slowly. In the middle of the meal, stop, put your fork down and see what number you are at. If you are at a 5 or below, continue to eat slowly, checking in with yourself at every few bites. Once you get to 6 (satisfied) put your fork down and be done with your meal. Write down what number you ended at for that meal.
         -Check in with yourself several times during the day to see where your hunger is.
         -Rather than counting calories, your goal is to eat at a 3-4 and stop at 6-7.  You want to eat slowly and give your body what it needs.
         -A guided meditation for mindful eating might be helpful as well.

5. As for exercise, you need to discuss appropriate ways to exercise with an exercise physiologist, an allergist, or sports medicine doctor. You might be able to do gentle things such as long, slow walks, or isometric exercises to help you tone up. Hard core cardio is obviously dangerous for you.
6.Get support. Don’t do this alone. Food issues and eating disorders thrive in isolation. Find a group of women who are learning how to let go of pejorative eating rituals (such as extreme calorie counting) and who want to learn to eat mindfully, intuitively and healthily together.
I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

Rats, Stress, Restriction, Oreos and Binge Eating

I recently came across this study done in 2002.

They were trying to replicate dieting and stress in rats to see if they would acquire eating disorders. They began by giving the rats 66% of the amount of food (Rat Chow!) that they usually ate. That’s like going from a 2000 calorie per day diet (normal) to a 1300 calorie per day diet (restrictive). They had the rats on this diet for 4 days. After 4 days, they lost 7-9% of their body weight. After the days of restriction, they were allowed to eat freely for 6 days. At the end of the 6 days, most of them they’d gained back almost all their weight and in some cases 5% more. This finding is not significant.  After day 6, the rats were exposed to stress (shocks). They were then given access to their rat chow and ate a normal amount, the same as they had eaten after the four days of restriction.  They then, created 4 new groups, one group that was unrestricted and unshocked (control group), one group that was on a restricted chow diet, one group that was shocked (stressed) and one group that was restricted and shocked. They then introduced Oreos into the picture.  After the shocking and restricting was completed, the rats were given as much access to Rat Chow and Oreos as they wanted.

The results:

1.)The control group (no restriction no stress) maintained their weight and their food intake with both the Rat Chow and the Oreos.

2.)The restricted group gained back what they’d lost during the restriction.

3.)The stressed group maintained their food intake/weight.

4.)The restricted stress group, though they were neutral on the Rat Chow, ate as much as they had previously had, however, they binged on Oreos. Their intake was almost 33% more (entirely on Oreos) than it had been.

Interesting! What does it all mean?

The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that when  caloric restriction and stress come together, it causes an increase in food intake.  This hypothesis was guided by the idea that dieting is the strongest predictor of stress induced binge eating disorder in the human population.

Even rats don’t do well on diets!

One of the ways to work through binge eating disorder is to really get a handle on stress. Some things that I’ve found incredibly helpful in alleviating stress are writing, reading, running, acupuncture, meditation,  yoga and talking to friends.  Others find knitting, sewing, walking, drinking tea, watching TV, seeing movies, getting massages, and deep breathing can be stress relieving.  What are some things that you do to relieve your stress?