Antidepressants highly effective against binge-eating disorder



People with binge-eating disorder have the greatest chance of achieving normal eating habits and alleviating symptoms associated with the disorder by taking second-generation antidepressants, topiramate, and lisdexamfetamine and engaging in cognitive-behavioral therapy, an analysis of several studies showed.

The findings should be used to “address other treatments, combinations of treatments, and comparisons between treatments; treatment for postbariatric surgery patients and children; and the course of these illnesses,” according to the report, released as part of the Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 160 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The authors of the report examined a total of 52 randomized controlled trials and 15 observational studies collected through searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Academic OneFile, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature databases, with 48 of the included studies specifically concerning binge-eating disorder (BED). English-language studies up through Jan. 19, 2015, were included for analysis, and the investigators specifically looked for studies of individuals who met DSM-IV or DSM-5 criteria for BED and studies of postbariatric surgery patients, including children, experiencing loss-of-control (LOC) eating habits.

Each study was evaluated based on a set of 15 “key questions” to determine the effectiveness and harms of the treatments involved. The key questions used by the investigators sought to determine the evidence of effectiveness and harms of BED treatments; LOC eating among bariatric surgery patients; and the effectiveness of any LOC treatments based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, initial body mass index, duration of illness, and coexisting conditions. In addition, similar questions were used to ascertain the effectiveness of treatments on pediatric patients.

“Broadly, we included pharmacological, psychological, behavioral, and combination interventions,” the report stated. “We considered physical and psychological health outcomes in four major categories: binge behavior (binge eating or LOC eating); binge-eating–related psychopathology (e.g., weight and shape concerns, dietary restraint); physical health functioning (i.e., weight and other indexes of metabolic health, e.g., diabetes); and general psychopathology (e.g., depression, anxiety).”

Antidepressants were found to be more effective than placebos across the studies included in the survey, specifically second-generation antidepressants, and were 1.67 times more likely to help BED patients achieve abstinence than placebos used in these trials; 41% of subjects receiving antidepressants ultimately achieved abstinence, compared with 23% on placebos.

With topiramate, binge eating generally decreased to as little as one episode per week, and a higher portion of subjects (58%) achieved abstinence than those on placebo (28%). In addition, topiramate was found to decrease “obsessive thoughts and compulsions related to binge eating” by nearly 30%, versus 23% in subjects taking placebos.

Studies involving lisdexamfetamine showed abstinence achieved in 40% of subjects, far higher than the 15% on placebos, and a likelihood of achieving abstinence 2.61 times higher than for those in the placebo cohorts. Binge-eating episodes per week also decreased, and were, on average, anywhere from 1.7 to 1.3 fewer than those in subjects taking placebo. Subjects receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy – whether led by a therapist or self-led, though the former was found to have stronger evidence of effectiveness than the latter – had an average of 2.3 fewer binge-eating episodes per week, and subjects involved with therapy were 4.95 times more likely to achieve abstinence than those who were not receiving therapy.

“Findings about BED treatment interventions are likely to be applicable to all adults age 18 and older with the disorder, but chiefly to overweight or obese women,” the report stated. “We cannot comment on the applicability of treatment findings for specific subgroups of adults (even among women) or whether findings extend to BED patients diagnosed based on DSM-5 criteria.”

The authors also noted that the findings are unclear with respect to adolescents with BED or members of ethnic groups, and children with loss-of-control eating or who have undergone bariatric surgery.

“A convention for reporting and analyzing” outcomes is necessary for the findings of this study to take on real-world applications that can be beneficial to clinicians and their patients in the near future, the authors concluded. However, more multisite randomized, controlled trials are needed.

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