Methylphenidate, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefit Patients With Binge Eating Disorder

Researchers compared the effects of long-acting methylphenidate and individual CBT for binge eating disorder in women.

The use of both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and methylphenidate were linked with reduced binge eating and body mass index in patients with binge eating disorder, according to results from a study published in Psychiatry Research.

Researchers conducted a randomized study of 49 female patients with binge eating disorder. Study participants were randomly assigned to receive either CBT (n=27) or methylphenidate (n=22) for a total of 12 weeks. Psychostimulant therapy was started at 18 mg daily and titrated to a maximum of 72 mg daily, based on tolerance. The primary outcome was the number of objective binge episodes assessed weekly using a daily binge diary.

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After analysis, the researchers found that both treatment strategies were associated with a significantly lower number of subjective (P <.001) and objective (P <.001) binge episodes. In addition, the investigators reported that methylphenidate was linked with a greater degree of weight loss vs CBT (4.4% vs 0.0%; P <.01).

One key limitation of the study was the self-reported nature of outcomes.

“Results provide preliminary support for the therapeutic benefit of methylphenidate in [binge eating disorder] treatment, and prognostic utility of impulsivity in this context,” the researchers wrote.

“Future investigations incorporating both men and women will be important to replicate and extend these results,” they concluded.


Quilty LC, Allen TA, Davis C, Knyahnytska Y, Kaplan AS. A randomized comparison of long acting methylphenidate and cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of binge eating disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;273:467-474.