Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for Weight and Eating Disorders

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Ongoing Research


Currently Recruiting

Volunteers Needed for Inpatient Study of Biological Factors and Night Eating Syndrome

Doctors at the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, University of Pennsylvania are studying the influence of day and night on the patterns of fatty acids in blood.

We are seeking healthy volunteers as well as volunteers experiencing night eating episodes (getting up at night to eat) for a research study.  You may qualify to participate if you are:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 65 years old
  • Overweight (BMI of 27-32 kg/m2)
  • Non-smoking
  • For healthy volunteers eating less than 25% of daily caloric intake after dinner


  • For volunteers with night eating experiencing multiple nocturnal eating episodes per week

This research study involves two outpatient assessments followed by a 3 night/ 2 day continuous stay in the hospital to test differences in biological factors between patients with night eating syndrome and healthy volunteers. Volunteers will be compensated for their participation.

For more information, call Alyssa at (215) 746-7342 or email at

The Flavor Savor Study

Researchers at University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, are conducting a study on children’s eating habits and eating rate. The goal of this study is to test out an intervention to improve children’s eating habits and help families enjoy meals together.

Children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old, along with a parent, are invited to participate. Following screening to determine eligibility, children will be provided with 2 meals, 6 weeks apart. Participating families will also attend up to 5 education sessions regarding healthy eating practices. The study lasts 12 weeks.

There is no cost to participate in the study. Families will be compensated for their time and effort.

If interested, please contact:

Lisa Diewald M.S., R.D.
Center for Weight and Eating Disorders
University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine


Ongoing Research (Closed to recruitment/recruiting from direct referrals):


Depression and Weight Loss Study

This 11-month research study involves 20 weeks of combined therapy for depression and weight loss at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders (3535 Market St.).

For more information, call Christina at 215-573-5502.


Volunteers Needed for a type 2 diabetes research Study

  • Do you have type 2 diabetes AND heart disease?
  • Are you at least 40 years old and stable on your medication?

This research study will be investigating the safety and effectiveness of a diabetes medication taken once weekly.

For information call Patricia at 215-746-7193 or email


Neuroimaging Research Study

We are seeking women who are interested in how the brain responds to food.  You may qualify to participate if you are:

  • Female over the age of 18
  • At least 50 pounds overweight
  • Non-diabetic
  • Non-smoking

This research study involves three visits over an 18 month period to the Clinical and Translational Research Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for MRI brain scans and blood draws.  Participants will be compensated for their time.

For more information and to see if you are eligible to participate, please contact:

Center for Weight and Eating Disorders
University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine
(215) 746-7342

Lifestyle Modification versus Bariatric Surgery for Type 2 Diabetes

We are seeking men and women who are considering bariatric surgery for weight loss.  To be eligible to participate in this research study, candidates must be at least 18 to 65 years of age, with a BMI of between 30 to 40 kg/m2 and have type 2 diabetes. Participants will be randomly assigned to: Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery; Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding surgery; or an intensive nonsurgical weight loss program, which includes lifestyle modification, meal replacements, and potentially an FDA-approved weight loss medication which are all standard of care for obesity treatment. This study will compare the benefits of different bariatric surgeries to each other and to a non-surgical weight loss program in terms of both weight loss as well as improvements in type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors.

Participation in the study involves visits to the Center for Translational Research at Hospital of University of Pennsylvania prior to having surgery or starting the intensive weight loss program, after a 10% weight loss, and at 6 and 12 months after the start of treatment. Participants will be compensated for their time.

Please contact Jacque Spitzer, Clinical Research Coordinator, at (215) 746-1281 or email to obtain more information about the study and find out if you are eligible to participate.

Obesity and Weight Loss among Endometrial Cancer Survivors

Dr. Kelly Allison and Dr. Christina Chu (Ob/Gyn)

This is a study funded by the Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) center grant at Penn Medicine. We are examining the efficacy of two technology based weight loss interventions among endometrial cancer survivors and the impact of weight loss on biomedical markers of cancer.  Participants are recruited from the Jordan Center for Gynecologic Cancer at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine.  For more information about this study, please contact Dr. Ashley Ford,

CHEF: Cooking Healthy to Eat Fewer Fatty Foods
PI: Chanelle T. Bishop-Gilyard, PsyD

The goal of the CHEF study is to determine the best way to help 12-16 year old girls lose weight and improve their eating and activity habits. The study will compare two approaches for helping teens learn ways to eat a healthier diet to lose weight. All teens will follow a reduced calorie, nutritionally-balanced diet. Both programs will be provided to groups of 8 to 10 teens. Parent participation is required. Thus, we expect 20 teens (and one of their parents) to participate in this treatment research study over the course of 12 weeks. You may be eligible if you are:

  • Overweight
  • Between 12 and 16 years of age
  • A female non-smoker
  • Free of significant health problems
  • Live no more than 40 minutes from The University of Pennsylvania

In addition to receiving weight loss treatment at no cost, participants will be compensated for their time. For more information, call Chanelle at 215 746-7180 or email:


Psychosocial Changes After Weight Loss
Dr. David Sarwer

We are currently seeking men and women between the ages of 18-65 who have been in a romantic, committed relationship for at least one year to participate in a study on psychosocial changes that occur after weight loss. Eligible people will participate in an evening weight loss program that will meet weekly for 16 weeks. Before beginning the program, and once per year for fours year after beginning the program, you will receive assessments including questionnaires and a blood test. You will receive compensation at each assessment point, and the weight loss treatment is free. Additional compensation may also be available.  If you are interested in learning more about this study, please call Jacque at 215-746-1281 or e-mail:

Behavioral Factors in the Surgical Treatment of Obesity

Dr. Thomas A. Wadden

This study is examining the effect of binge eating disorder on the outcome of weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Participants must have already elected to undergo surgery in order to participate. Diet and exercise counseling is available for persons with binge eating disorder who do not see bariatric surgery.


Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes)
Dr. Thomas A. Wadden

This 16-site, NIH-funded study will examine the benefits of a lifestyle intervention on overweight men and women with Type 2 Diabetes over 11 years (until 2012). The study is closed to new enrollment.

Postoperative Dietary Counseling After Bariatric Surgery

Dr. David Sarwer

We are conducting a study funded by the National Institutes of Health investigating the effects of postoperative dietary counseling after gastric bypass surgery. Participants in the study will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions. Half of the participants will receive standard postoperative care. This will included coming back to the surgeon's office for scheduled visits as well as the availability of the Program's support groups and website. Half will meet every other week, for 16 weeks after surgery, with the program dietician for 30 minutes. These sessions will be designed to help assist patients in adjusting to the postoperative diet. All participants will be followed for a total of 18 months. This study is no longer recruiting.