NYMC Faculty Publications

Binge Eating Disorder: A Psychiatrist's Commentary on Clinical Considerations

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Clinical Therapeutics

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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


PURPOSE: Of the 3 major eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (BED), BED is the most common and exists in the practices of most primary care and psychiatric clinicians. However, BED often goes unrecognized and thus untreated.

METHODS: Reviewed in this commentary are the basic elements in the diagnosis of BED, demographic and clinical characteristics, screening options, the importance of comorbidities, pathophysiology, and available treatments.

FINDINGS: Psychological treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and behavioral weight loss, have been recommended as first-line options and are supported by several different meta-analytic reviews. Lisdexamfetamine is currently the only medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of BED. Effect sizes for lisdexamfetamine versus placebo for response, remission, and avoidance of relapse in BED are robust, but its use may be limited by tolerability. This is also the case for topiramate, an anticonvulsant that has been used "off-label" to treat BED.

IMPLICATIONS: Additional medication choices approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of BED are needed. Moving forward, opportunities to leverage modern technology to broaden access to treatment are highly desirable.