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An open trial evaluating an attention bias modification program for overweight adults who binge eat.


Background and objectives

Binge eating is prevalent and is associated with significant psychiatric and medical comorbidities. To date, the most effective psychological treatments for individuals who binge eat are not effective for all patients and they do not result in significant weight loss. Dual process theories suggest that implicit factors, such as attention bias, may influence behavior, even when the behavior is in opposition to long-term goals. Attention bias modification programs have been tested in other areas of psychopathology, and could be utilized to improve outcomes for people who binge eat. Thus, the aim of this open trial was to conduct a preliminary evaluation of an attention bias modification program (ABM-Food) designed to train attention away from food cues.


Adults who binge eat and were overweight or obese enrolled in an 8-week ABM-Food program, which consisted of one session in the lab each week and two training sessions at home. Nine participants completed the ABM-Food training program and the post-treatment assessment, and 8 completed the 3-month post-treatment assessment.


Results showed that the ABM-Food program is a feasible and acceptable treatment for adults who binge eat. Initial effectiveness data showed decreases in weight, eating disorder symptoms, binge eating, loss of control and responsivity to food in the environment, as well as changes in attention bias. The majority of these effects remained at the 3-month follow-up time point.


This study is limited by the single-group open label trial, and the small sample size.


This open trial provides initial evidence for the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of ABM-Food for individuals who binge eat and are overweight or obese.

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