Loss Of Control eating (LOC) in youth

Correlates of interpersonal emotion regulation problems in Loss Of Control eating (LOC) in youth: a combined questionnaire, laboratory and intervention study (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation: Nr. 100001C_185387)

Since the introduction of the DSM-5 in 2013, binge eating disorder (BED), characterised by recurrent binge episodes associated with marked distress represents a valid diagnostic entity in the section of feeding and eating disorders of the 5th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). BED is associated with repeated ruminations and worries over shape, weight and eating and with overweight and obesity and has detrimental consequences for mental and physical health (Amianto, Ottone, Daga, & Fassino, 2015). BED is relatively common in the general population and prevalence rates are high in the obesity subgroup (Kessler et al., 2013). Even though BED has been named a typical adult eating disorder, there is increasing evidence that loss of control eating (LOC) over different quantities of food and with different frequencies is prevalent in adolescents and young adults (youth). LOC is associated with similar mental health impairments, increases the risk to develop a BED and promotes continuous weight gain and body dissatisfaction during the important developmental phase of youth. The etiology of BED and LOC is not yet fully understood. Especially in youth, psychological factors such as dysfunctional emotion regulation (bingeing in order to cope with adverse mood) in social situations when feeling rejected (rejection sensitivity) as well as impulsivity seem to play an important role and deserve further investigation. The impact of biological factors such as physiological correlates of interpersonal emotion regulation and epigenetic underpinnings is also not yet understood. In adults with BED, different treatment options, lengths and applications result in at least moderate to high effects for the reduction of binge eating, whereas the efficacy of interventions aiming at LOC or BED in youth is still under studied.

In order to clarify the role of interpersonal emotion regulation problems, we propose a combined cross and longitudinal online-questionnaire based, App-based ecological momentary assessment and an experimental approach in the virtual reality (VR) laboratory. We plan to examine the interrelations of social exclusion experiences and rejection sensitivity with emotion and impulse regulation problems (assessed via an online Stop Signal Task, SST game), negative mood and negative affect, eating disorder pathology, body weight, gaze behavior and psychophysiological correlates. We also aim to increase availability of and access to treatment for youth and evaluate the specific and additive efficacy of a traditional cognitive behavioral treatment approach and of interventions targeting at interpersonal emotion regulation problems. For the first time, in the area of LOC and BED, we will explore the role of epigenetic features prior and during treatment.


Development of app-based aftercare services

Digital media such as a mobile phone application have the potential to complement and improve existing psychotherapeutic services and to close existing gaps in healthcare services. The current COVID-19 pandemic also highlights the need to expand existing digital care services.


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