Researchers link binge eating and weight-loss challenges

December 5, 2017 by Michele W. Berger, University of Pennsylvania

Someone who binge eats consumes an objectively large amount of food while feeling a loss of control over eating. When episodes occur weekly for several months, the action moves into the realm of binge-eating disorder. So how does this type of eating affect people with Type 2 diabetes and obesity who are actively working to lose weight?

According to new findings from the University of Pennsylvania published in the journal Obesity, it presents a significant obstacle: Those who continue to binge eat while trying to lose weight drop about half as much as those who don't or those who do and then subsequently stop.

"Continued binge eating can act as a barrier to achieving success," said Ariana Chao, an assistant professor in the Penn School of Nursing.

Chao studies how addictive-like eating behaviors influence treatment effectiveness for different populations. To better understand the role of binge eating in , she and colleagues from Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Connecticut and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases assessed data from a study called Action for Health in Diabetes, or Look AHEAD. This multi-center randomized, controlled trial included more than 5,000 participants ages 45 to 76, all with a above 25 (or 27 for those using insulin) and Type 2 diabetes.

Look AHEAD's original aim was to compare the effects on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality of two treatment options: an intensive lifestyle intervention designed to induce weight loss and diabetes support and education. The former included dietary recommendations, physical activity and behavior modifications; those in the latter group were encouraged to attend three sessions per year, one each about , social support and eating.

In addition, Look AHEAD annually assessed binge eating. Via a questionnaire, participants noted any instances in the past six months during which they consumed excess food and felt a lack of control over that consumption.

For this study, Chao and her team, which included Thomas Wadden, the Albert J. Stunkard Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and director of Penn's Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, analyzed the impact of binge eating on weight loss. The researchers found that at four years, participants who reported no binge eating or a reduced tendency to do so lost more weight than those who continued to binge eat. Participants lost 4.6 percent of initial body weight compared to 1.9 percent.

"Previously, it was unclear whether people who binge eat need to be treated for that behavior before attempting behavioral weight loss or whether they'll do OK in behavioral weight loss without it," said Chao, who has a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry. "Our findings suggest that people who continue to binge eat after they start a behavioral weight-loss program need an additional treatment like , which is one of the most effective for this condition."

Such treatment includes work to recognize the interconnectedness of thoughts, feelings and behaviors, Chao said. For instance, if someone eats to cope with stress, CBT could aim to untangle why and how to change the behavior.

Though this study looked at a particular subset of people, two-thirds of the adult population in the United States is either overweight or obese. For that reason, Wadden said it's important for clinicians to screen for these behaviors and, if found, refer those patients for additional care.

"Individuals with a history of binge eating shouldn't be excluded or discouraged from engaging in behavioral weight loss," he said. "But should be monitored regularly during loss. Participants who continue to report this may benefit from additional or more targeted treatment to ensure success."

Explore further: Signs that someone you know may have an eating disorder

More information: Ariana M. Chao et al, Binge Eating and Weight Loss Outcomes in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: 4-Year Results from the Look AHEAD Study, Obesity (2017). DOI: 10.1002/oby.21975

Related Stories

Signs that someone you know may have an eating disorder

November 10, 2017
It is estimated that 30 million people may suffer from an eating disorder at some point, and if these estimates are correct then that number is higher than depression. But what are the signs that someone you know may be struggling ...

Shedding consistent pounds each week linked to long-term weight loss

August 28, 2017
When it comes to losing weight, it's not necessarily slow, but steady, that wins the race, according to new research from Drexel University.

Are you eating for the wrong reasons?

July 28, 2017
(HealthDay)—You don't have to have an eating disorder, like binge eating, to have an overeating habit.

Binge eating more likely to lead to health risks in men

September 18, 2013
Binge eating is a problem affecting both men and women, however, obese men who binge are more likely than their female counterparts to have elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, finds a new study in General Hospital ...

Childhood binge eating: Families, feeding, and feelings

June 28, 2016
Binge eating is the most prevalent type of eating disorder across races, ethnic groups, ages, and genders. Surprisingly, binge eating has even been reported in children as young as 5 years old.

Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate has early benefit in binge eating

August 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (LDX) is associated with early improvement in efficacy measures in adults with binge-eating disorder (BED), according to research published in the August issue of the International ...

Recommended for you

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.