Binge-eating or binge eating disorder is a serious health problem in which a person tends to frequently eat a large quantity of food and typically feels unable to stop. In contrast with overeating; binge eating is different. Almost everyone overeats sometimes but some people overeat all the times feeling like they have completely lost control overeating. Doing this a few more times leads to a habit of binge eating which is medically diagnosed as binge-eating disorder.
Fortunately, binge eating is treatable with behavioral therapy. This latest study talks about a phone app by telemedicine and developed by a health coach to be helpful in taking control over binge eating disorder. This is a smartphone app that helps to overcome various symptoms of binge eating.
The efficacy of this app is studied by the researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai and is now published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
The American Psychiatric Association categorizes binge eating as a psychiatric disorder. Collectively, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa affects nearly 6.5 million US population. Typically, cognitive behavior therapies (CBT) help to overcome this abnormal eating habit through individual or group activities. There are many self-help versions and even in-person sessions with certified trainers are available but this help is limited and may not facilitate millions of affected people at a time.
Since mobile culture is extremely popular these days, even in clinicians and patients, this research planned to investigate if a digital option for binge eating would help or not. Considering mobile phone apps to be readily available and popular these days, it is probably the most cost-effective alternative of certain specialized treatments of binge eating such as behavioral therapy.
This study focused on the Noom Monitor which is a smartphone app specially developed for easing cognitive behavioral therapy in the form of self-guidelines.
Thomas D. Hildebrandt holds the office of Chief in “Center of Excellence in Eating and Weight Disorders” at “The Mount Sinai Hospital”. As the first author of this study, he says;
“Through a previous pilot study of the Noom Monitor by our team, we know the platform is acceptable to patients, feasible to deliver, and when combined with CBT-GSH with a trained clinician, improve symptoms.”
He further says that;
“The purpose of this study was to evaluate the robustness of the intervention when delivered by non-specialist health coaches in a community health care system via telemedicine. We were encouraged by the results that showed that this intervention is effective and can be scaled outside of specialty clinical programs.”
The study investigated the efficacy of this app via a randomized, controlled telemedicine trial that lasted 52-weeks studying the effect of CBT-GSH along with the Noom Monitor and standard of care. The standard care included all traditional psychiatric care that is usually offered in an integrated healthcare system in the USA.
The research team checked that patients who were receiving CBT-GSH and Noom reported a significant reduction in their binge eating days making it approximately 3 days lesser every month. This group also showed a higher remission rate (56.7%) than the control group which was provided with standard help and care.
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All coaching and guiding sessions of CBT-GSH were delivered through phone and included steps such as; self-monitoring, regular diet, alternate to binge eating, reduced diet, shape, weight records, etc. Dr. Hildebrandt said;
“In addition to providing an improvement in primary eating disorders symptoms, related depression, and impairment in functioning, the group treated with CBT-GSH plus the Noom Monitor had an increased remission rate beyond the intervention, suggesting that the effects of the intervention continued to facilitate changes within the follow-up period that were not observed among those who received standard care,”
He shows promising effects of this new digital support program saying; “Scaling and implementing empirically supported interventions have become an important priority across mental health conditions and our study shows that CBT-GSH via telemedicine is effective and scalable as an intervention for binge eating disorders.“