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Transdiagnostic views on eating disorders and obesity and new approaches for treatment

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NewEat (Transdiagnostic views on eating disorders and obesity and new approaches for treatment)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

NewEat investigates why it is so difficult for many individuals to maintain a healthy diet. Several psychological factors are studied that are known to interfere with healthy eating: food craving (strong desires for tasty foods), emotional eating (unhealthy eating in response to negative moods and emotions) and restrained eating (chronic intermittent dieting). To do so, questionnaires are combined with short questions delivered repeatedly via smartphone apps to capture general tendencies on these aspects in everyday life. Brain imaging is used to find out how the brain responds to food images under different conditions, e.g. when in negative mood. These studies are done in healthy individuals to get a general sense of these issues in the population but also in eating disordered individuals in which these issues are more extreme. Obesity is also studied because of its large societal impact. We aim to develop a general model of unhealthy eating based on brain mechanisms. The findings will be translated into a smartphone based intervention to help support healthier eating.
Early stages of the project concerned questionnaire development (two published, Meule et al., 2017) and establishment of the smartphone app supported ambulatory assessment protocol and associated statistical procedures (e.g. Reichenberger et al., 2016). Later stages (Months 12-24) concerned the analysis procedures for laboratory studies and the development for ambulatory interventions. At the same time we established agreements with clinics for recruitment, set up mobile labs there and developed a recruitment and testing pipeline. By end 2017 close to 50 patients with eating disorders could be tested.
All results reported above clearly and significantly advanced the state of the art. Until the end of the project we intend to complete testing of 4 clinical groups (Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa, Binge eating disorder and obestiy) with our tasks and hope to publish influential papers about similarities and differences across these groups. In addition we intend to have successfully completed at least on ambulatory intervention study to treat food cravings.