Binge Eating and Chromium

BEACh logoBEACh is a research study funded by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) ( BEACh is designed to assess changes in eating behavior, mood, body weight, and glucose regulation after a 6-month dietary intervention with chromium picolinate. Chromium is an essential element found in common foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, molasses, spices, and some bran cereals and vegetables. This study will help address initial research questions about the usefulness of chromium picolinate supplementation as a potential treatment for binge eating disorder.

Please be advised that enrollment for this study is currently closed.

What Can You Expect?

Research Team

The study is conducted by trained, licensed professionals experienced in the treatment of eating and mood disorders and in the conduct of appetite- and diet-related research.

Comprehensive Assessment

All participants will have assessments during which they complete questionnaires and interviews with a research clinician. In addition, participants will complete testing to evaluate their body composition and degree of sweet taste liking, and to screen for diabetes. Participants will also complete phone-based interviews to assess their usual dietary intake patterns at various intervals throughout the study.


During the study, participants will be randomly assigned (like a coin flip) to receive 6 months of a daily oral tablet containing either:

  • Low dose of chromium picolinate
  • High dose of chromium picolinate
  • Placebo (an inactive treatment like a sugar pill)

In addition, participants will:

  • Complete several visits to the UNC Clinical and Translational Research Center ( over this same 6-month period
  • Return for a follow-up assessment 3 months later

Is BEACh for You?

The BEACh study might be appropriate for you if you:

  • Have binge eating disorder (diagnosis will be determined/confirmed as part of the initial assessments that are conducted prior to treatment);
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 55;
  • Are overweight;
  • Speak and read English;
  • Are NOT diabetic;
  • Are NOT pregnant, lactating, or planning on becoming pregnant in the 9-month study period.

The BEACh Team


Kimberly Brownley, PhDKimberly Brownley, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry and a principal faculty member of the UNC Stress and Health Research Program and the UNC Eating Disorders Program. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, and then completed a postdoctoral research and clinical training fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at the University of Miami, FL from 1997 to 1999. Dr. Brownley has been researching various aspects of human psychology, physiology, and behavior for over 20 years. Much of her work focuses on the psychobiology of appetite regulation including the study of hormones that signal hunger and satiety, how such hormones respond to different types of food, and the role that these hormones play in disordered eating behavior and weight gain. With the support of funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Dr. Brownley is currently investigating (1) the impact of dietary chromium supplementation on eating behavior, mood, and appetite hormones in persons with binge eating disorder; (2) weight and metabolic disturbances associated with use of atypical antipsychotic medications; (3) racial ethnic disparities in obesity; and (4) the role of gut peptides in symptom expression in Postprandial Distress Syndrome. She is also the recipient of a 2009 Pilot Grant from the UNC Institute on Aging, which is funding her work on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in family caregivers of persons with dementia. Author of over three dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, Dr. Brownley also devotes time to serving as Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychophysiology and as a member of the scientific advisory committees for the UNC Clinical and Translational Research Center and the Binge Eating Disorder Association.


Cindy photoCynthia M. Bulik, PhD, FAED is the Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is also Professor of Nutrition in the School of Public Health and the Director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program. Since she received her doctorate in 1988 in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, she has been actively involved in developing treatment programs and conducting research on eating disorders. Her work has focused on all aspects of eating disorders from genetics to treatment. Dr. Bulik has written over 300 scientific papers and chapters on eating disorders and is author of the books Eating Disorders: Detection and Treatment (Dunmore), Runaway Eating: The 8 Point Plan to Conquer Adult Food and Weight Obsessions (Rodale), and a soon to be released book Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop (Bloomsbury). She has won several awards including the Eating Disorders Coalition Research Award and the Academy for Eating Disorders Leadership Award for Research and has served as president of the Academy for Eating Disorders and Vice President of the Eating Disorders Coalition. She holds the first endowed professorship in eating disorders in the United States.


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Contact Information

Thank you for your interest in the BEACh study.  For information, other than enrollment, contact the study coordinator at (919) 843-2483 or email