People with binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food uncontrollably in a small period of time. Those who follow with compensatory behavior like purging or excessive exercise are typically diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. Cynthia Bulik, founding director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at UNC and one of the researchers behind BEGIN, is hoping to recruit 1,000 participants, ages 18 or older, who have experience with either binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa.
Participants will use an app called Recovery Record which lets them log their thoughts and feelings and share information with their doctor ahead of a session. It requires 10 minutes a day of participation. Each person will get a free Apple Watch, courtesy of Apple, to monitor their heart rate over the course of a month. Researchers will check if there are heart rate spikes before binge eating episodes.
"We're interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge," said Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of Recovery Record. "And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode."
Participants will also be given tests to analyze their genetics and bodily bacteria (or microbiome) so the researchers can better understand the root causes of the disease. UBiome will provide free test kits to participants and will do the analysis.