Gender Differences in Clinical Trials of Binge Eating Disorder: An Analysis of Aggregated Data

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The aim of the study was to examine gender differences in baseline and outcome variables in clinical trials for binge eating disorder (BED).


Data from 11 randomized controlled psychosocial treatment studies were aggregated (N = 1,325: 208 male, 1,117 female). Baseline and outcome symptoms were assessed via the interview and questionnaire versions of the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE). Multilevel analyses were conducted investigating gender differences at baseline and posttreatment, defined as EDE scores, objective binge episode (OBE) reduction, and OBE remission at termination.


Few males from low socioeconomic status or minority groups participated in the outcome studies. Males reported significantly lower EDE global, shape, weight, and eating concerns at baseline. No main effects of gender were found in treatment outcome scores when controlling for baseline differences; however, baseline EDE global score (which showed gender differences at baseline) and OBEs directly predicted outcome for both males and females. A significant interaction between gender, treatment length, and shape/weight concerns indicated that males with lower shape/weight concerns achieved OBE remission in shorter treatments, whereas men with high shape/weight concerns and women with either high or low shape/weight concerns were more likely to achieve OBE remission in treatments of longer duration.


These results suggest BED treatment studies must improve their recruitment of men and appeal to men with lower shape/weight concerns. Additionally, longer term treatments, although more efficacious for women and men with more severe shape/weight concerns, may not be necessary for men with low shape/weight concerns.

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