Binge eating disorder (BED) is a newly defined diagnostic category characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating not followed by the inappropriate compensatory weight loss behaviors characteristic of bulimia nervosa. BED is usually associated with overweight or obesity and psychopathology. Pharmacotherapy may be a useful component of a multidimensional treatment approach. Although pharmacotherapy research in BED is still in its preliminary stages, some drugs have been shown to be promising agents. This paper reviews available pharmacological treatment studies of BED and related conditions. Currently, three main classes of drugs have been studied in double-blind, placebo controlled trials in BED: antidepressants, anti-obesity agents, and anticonvulsants. Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the best studied medications. Thus, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline and citalopram have been shown to modestly but significantly reduce binge eating frequency and body weight in BED over the short term. More recently, the anti-obesity agent sibutramine and the anticonvulsant topiramate have been shown to significantly reduce binge eating behavior and body weight in BED associated with obesity. Special issues concerning current pharmacological trials and future research directions in this area are also discussed.
Keywords: binge eating, binge eating disorder, pharmacological treatment, antidepressants, anti-obesity agents, anticonvulsants
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