A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found cognitive behavioral therapy to be effective, in treating binge eating disorder in adolescence, with lasting results.
Binge-eating disorder, characterized by recurrent episodes of uncontrolled eating that occurs in the absence of compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain, is the most common eating disorder emerging in adolescence. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) represents the most well-established treatment for adults with binge eating disorder. Only few pilot studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of CBT in treating binge eating disorders in adolescents. These studies suggested superiority of CBT compared to waiting list in achieving binge-eating abstinence and in improving eating disorder psychopathology.
The BEDA study was conducted to provide a confirmatory test of the efficacy of age adapted cognitive behavioral therapy in adolescent with binge eating disorder. Seventy-three adolescents (82% girls) were randomized to receive CBT or waiting list. Results showed that adolescents receiving CBT had 5 fewer monthly binge-eating episodes compared to adolescents in the waiting list condition. In addition, adolescents receiving CBT reported higher rates of abstinence from binge eating and remission from binge eating disorder. More important, after CBT, binge-eating episodes remained significantly reduced at 6-, 12-, and 24-month follow-up when compared with baseline.
This confirmatory study uniquely established the efficacy of CBT in improving binge-eating symptomatology and demonstrated long-term maintenance of effects over 24 months in adolescents with an age-adapted diagnosis of binge eating disorder.