Better self-control: New therapy for the most common eating disorder

Binge eating disorder: New therapeutic approach to eating attacks

According to health experts, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the general population. Sufferers have significantly less control over their eating behavior. Now there is a new therapeutic approach against eating bouts.

Increase in eating disorders

According to health experts, more and more people suffer from eating disorders. In particular, anorexia nervosa (anorexia) and bulimia (bulimia nervosa; eating and vomiting) have increased significantly. But the so-called “binge eating disorder” is also on the rise. This leads to periodic food cravings with loss of conscious control over eating behavior. In contrast to bulimia, no countermeasures are taken afterwards, so that in the long term overweight is the result. Experts are now reporting on a new therapeutic approach against eating bouts.

Better self-control

As the University Hospital Tübingen explains in a message, people with the binge eating disorder suffer from eating bouts and have significantly less control over their eating behavior.

At the University Hospital in Tübingen, doctors and scientists have now examined two groups with affected people in parallel.

The participants of one group trained under psychological guidance their self-control over eating. The control group subjects did not participate in this special exercise program.

The comparative study IMPULS, which was published in the journal "Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics", clearly showed that even three months later the training led to better self-control with regard to eating bouts.

Most common eating disorder in the general population

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that has only been officially diagnosed for a few years, but is also the most common eating disorder in the general population.

Affected people suffer from regular eating bouts and as a result often from overweight and obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the worldwide increase in obesity prevalence as one of the primary health problems.

Control eating behavior

In the therapy study at the Tübingen Department for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy under the direction of Dr. Kathrin Schag was treated for people with the binge eating disorder.

In eight 90-minute sessions, on the one hand, self-control skills were strengthened, and, on the other hand, the study participants practiced so-called exposure sessions to eat particularly tasty foods while at the same time resisting the urge to eat.

The participants were allowed to bring the food and dishes that are most likely to trigger uncontrolled eating behavior.

Under psychological guidance, the participants faced the desire to eat and learned to master it.

As stated in the communication, this experience of being able to control eating behavior and experiencing how cravings diminished during the group session led to a sense of achievement and the realization “I can do it”.

According to the experts, the results indicate that the psychotherapeutic treatment of impulsiveness as the underlying cause of eating bouts is promising and can alleviate the suffering of a large group of people.

Those affected with binge eating disorder therefore benefit from an outpatient group program that focuses specifically on impulsive behavior.

Important building block for treatment

Compared to a control group in which the test subjects did not take part in the special group program, it was found that initially both groups were able to reduce their bouts of eating and other symptoms of eating disorders.

However, these effects lasted longer in the treatment group, i.e. over three months and continued to increase as the control group returned to baseline on eating bouts.

The preliminary improvement in the control group was interpreted to mean that the weekly completion of self-observation protocols, a classic behavioral therapy instrument, led to increased self-awareness, which quickly decreased after the treatment period.

According to the experts, the results of the IMPULS study therefore give hope that an important therapeutic component has been found in the treatment of eating disorders and obesity. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • New therapeutic approach against eating bouts
  • IMPULS: Impulsivity-Focused Group Intervention to Reduce Binge Eating Episodes in Patients with Binge Eating Disorder - A Randomized Controlled Trial

Video: Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Eating Recovery Center (January 2022).