Targeting dietary restraint to reduce binge eating: a randomised controlled trial of a blended internet- and smartphone app-based intervention

Linardon, Jake, Messer, Mariel, Shatte, Adrian, Skvarc, David, Rosato, John, Rathgen, April, and Fuller-tyszkiewicz, Matthew (2023) Targeting dietary restraint to reduce binge eating: a randomised controlled trial of a blended internet- and smartphone app-based intervention. Psychological Medicine, 53 (4). pp. 1277-1287.

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Existing internet-based prevention and treatment programmes for binge eating are composed of multiple distinct modules that are designed to target a broad range of risk or maintaining factors. Such multi-modular programmes (1) may be unnecessarily long for those who do not require a full course of intervention and (2) make it difficult to distinguish those techniques that are effective from those that are redundant. Since dietary restraint is a well-replicated risk and maintaining factor for binge eating, we developed an internet- and app-based intervention composed solely of cognitive-behavioural techniques designed to modify dietary restraint as a mechanism to target binge eating. We tested the efficacy of this combined selective and indicated prevention programme in 403 participants, most of whom were highly symptomatic (90% reported binge eating once per week).


Participants were randomly assigned to the internet intervention (n = 201) or an informational control group (n = 202). The primary outcome was objective binge-eating frequency. Secondary outcomes were indices of dietary restraint, shape, weight, and eating concerns, subjective binge eating, disinhibition, and psychological distress. Analyses were intention-to-treat.


Intervention participants reported greater reductions in objective binge-eating episodes compared to the control group at post-test (small effect size). Significant effects were also observed on each of the secondary outcomes (small to large effect sizes). Improvements were sustained at 8 week follow-up.


Highly focused digital interventions that target one central risk/maintaining factor may be sufficient to induce meaningful change in core eating disorder symptoms.

Item ID: 81611
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-8978
Keywords: binge eating; eating disorders; e-mental health; prevention; randomised controlled trial; treatment
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC APP1196948
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2024 02:15
FoR Codes: 46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4608 Human-centred computing > 460806 Human-computer interaction @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420302 Digital health @ 40%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520199 Applied and developmental psychology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 22 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 2204 Information systems, technologies and services > 220407 Human-computer interaction @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200409 Mental health @ 50%
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