There are no FDA-approved treatments for binge eating disorder, but several drugs show some promise. The anti-seizure medication Topamax, which acts as an appetite suppressant in epilepsy patients, has proved somewhat successful in reducing the frequency and severity of bingeing. In a study published last month in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the weight loss drug Meridia was shown to significantly reduce bingeing; binge eaters treated with the drug also lost more weight during a 24-week period than those receiving only a placebo.
Unfortunately, therapies that help prevent bingeing don't necessarily translate into successful weight loss. Although some doctors view that as a treatment failure, others offer a different perspective. "Weight loss should be viewed as a positive side effect of treatment, not its primary goal," Boutelle says. "The goal of treatment is to make people feel better, and sometimes simply stopping the bingeing can do that."
Dr. Valerie Ulene is a board-certified specialist in preventive medicine practicing in L.A. Reach her at themd@ att.net. The M.D. appears monthly.