Beating the binge

  At the moment, we are not looking for new participants. However, we are busy preparing the third and final study within the ‘Beating the Binge’ research project, in which we are going to test the new app that we have developed. If you are interested in participating, please use the link in the top right corner to leave your email address (entirely without obligation). We will then contact you once we are ready to start the study!

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Binge eating is a common and severe phenomenon with many negative consequences. Even though effective treatments for binge eating do exist, many people do not fully recover. And of those who initially do, many still revert to their old patterns over time. In order to improve existing treatments for binge eating, we are conducting three consecutive studies in which we investigate the predictors of binge eating using systematic assessments in daily life. This will help us find out how and when to intervene to prevent binge eating episodes – outside of the therapist’s office as well.

In the project we ask people with recurrent binge eating episodes to monitor their eating behavior using a smartphone app. Before and after each eating moment, and at random moments during the day, they will answer questions about eating, thoughts, emotions, and the context in which these take place. In some of the studies, participants will also wear a smartwatch that will continuously gather information about e.g. their activity level, heart rate, and sleeping pattern. This way, the key predictors of binge eating can be identified. This information will then be used to develop a semi-tailored self-learning e-coach (also presented via an app) that can predict binge eating episodes and offer support when people are at risk for binge eating (just-in-time interventions). The ultimate goal is to test this intervention as an add-on to existing treatments for binge eating, hereby bridging the gap between the therapist’s office and daily life.

Current study

The first study within the project, completed in June 2020, was mainly aimed at identifying the thoughts that people may have prior to a binge eating episode. We are currently conducting the second study, in which we will broaden our focus and will look at other possible predictors of binge eating as well, such as environment and behavior. For this study, we are still in search of participants. More specifically, we are looking for adults (m/f; age 18-65; with/without an eating disorder; BMI >18.5) who experience recurrent episodes of binge eating (at least once a week). Binge eating is defined as consuming an unusually large amount of food based on the given circumstances in a discrete period of time, accompanied by a sense of loss of control. 

What do we ask of participants?

If you take part in this study, we will ask you to monitor your eating behavior for a two-week period using a smartphone app. Before and after each eating moment, and at random moments during the day, you will answer questions about eating, thoughts, emotions, and the context in which these take place. This is a registration-only study. We will not ask you to make any changes to your daily routines (yet). In addition, you will wear a smartwatch (provided by us) that will continuously gather data about e.g. your activity level, heart rate, and sleeping pattern. 

In order to participate you will not be required to visit the university. You will receive a digital manual with detailed instructions about how to install and use the app and smartwatch. There will also be a practice day. All data will be handled and stored anonymously and confidentially. You will receive a small reward for your participation (VVV gift voucher of €25). Students at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (UM) can also choose to receive 3 participation credits instead.

At the bottom of this page you will find the complete information letter for the study.

(How) can I participate?

To check whether you are eligible to take part in the study, you first need to fill in a short online screening survey. If you click the link, you will first be presented with some more information about what participation entails exactly. Take your time to carefully read through this information. All data gathered during the screening will be handled strictly confidentially and will be stored in encrypted form. This means that safe data collection via the internet is guaranteed and it will not be possible to link the data back to you in any way.

Unfortunately, not everyone can participate. You can NOT take part in the study if you:

  • Are not living and/or studying in the Netherlands or Belgium
  • Do not own a smartphone
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5 (click the link to calculate your BMI)
  • Are pregnant
  • Experience binges exclusively after drug use

Some psychological problems also rule out participation (for this we refer to the questionnaire).

After you have completed the screening survey, you will be informed right away whether or not you might belong to the target group of the study. If this is the case, you will be invited for a telephone interview during which further eligibility for the study will be determined.