Can Web-Based Self-Help Interventions Help With BED?

A recent JAMA Network Open study assessed the effectiveness of web-based self-help interventions in alleviating binge eating disorder (BED). Here are some details, including the findings and the conclusions.

Why BED?

We’ve covered it many times before, but let’s recall that BED is defined as uncontrolled overeating that can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Prolonged BED can reduce the affected person’s quality of life, negatively impact social relationships, and compromise their ability to perform their job well. Without a timely intervention, BED can become chronic and even lead to premature death.

CBT and its barriers

Some studies have demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can serve as an effective BED intervention, as well as positively affect the eating disorders bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.

Unfortunately, some people with BED don’t seek in-person psychotherapy because of such barriers as treatment costs, lack of availability, and sociocultural stigma.

This is where web-based cognitive behavioral interventions come in, thanks to their ease of implementation, availability, reduced social stigma, and cost-effectiveness. This avenue has been growing in popularity for these reasons, making BED treatment more accessible.

About the study

The study involved a randomized clinical trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based cognitive behavioral self-help intervention for BED. Researchers measured changes in eating disorder symptoms, well-being, co-morbid psychopathology, self-esteem, emotion regulation, and clinical impairment. Weekly symptom monitoring and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) were used to track real-time changes in binge eating.

Participants were recruited from Germany and other German-speaking regions in Europe. Eligible participants were 18-65 years old, owned a smartphone, and were diagnosed with BED according to the DSM-5 criteria. They were randomly assigned to either a control group (waiting list) or a web-based treatment group. Assessments were conducted at baseline, six weeks (mid-treatment), and 12 weeks (post-treatment).

The intervention consisted of six mandatory modules covering psychoeducation, self-monitoring of binge eating, emotion regulation, and interactive exercises. A sequential module-access strategy was employed to engage participants in a personalized manner.

Study findings

The study found significant changes in BED patterns from baseline to 12 weeks in the intervention group. Out of 1,602 patients, 154 met the eligibility criteria and were recruited, with 77 participants in each group. The intervention group reported fewer binge-eating episodes and showed significant improvements in global eating psychopathology and clinical impairment.

Dr. Priyom Bose, Ph.D., discussing the study results, writes:

“The intervention’s efficacy exceeded or was similar to previously documented digital interventions, as well as in-person guided and unguided self-help interventions for BED.

Notably, the levels of improvement observed in the intervention group were consistent with or surpassed those associated with in-person CBT interventions, thus confirming the clinical applicability of web-based cognitive behavioral self-help interventions.”

The study noted that participants’ motivation, attitudes towards online interventions, demographic characteristics, and treatment expectations influenced the positive effects of the web-based intervention.

The bottom line

The study demonstrates that web-based cognitive behavioral self-help interventions can significantly improve the well-being of people with BED, offering a promising alternative to traditional treatments. However, the study had some limitations, including the under-representation of males and older adults, and potential biases due to the self-report design. Future research can address these limitations through methodologies like double-blind designs.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Web-based self-help program proves effective in treating binge eating disorder,”, 5/19/24
Source: “Effectiveness of a Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Self-Help Intervention for Binge Eating Disorder,” JAMA Network Open, 5/16/24
Image by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources