Effects of transcranial continuous current stimulation (tDCS) associated with aerobic exercise in the treatment of food compulsion

A randomized clinical trial


  • Milena Artifon Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Gabriel Mayer Tossi Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Nathália Griebler Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Pedro Schestatsky Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Francesco Boeno Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Cesar Moritz Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Juliana Lopes Teodoro Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Lucas Beraldo Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Lauren Naomi Adachi Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Álvaro Reischak de Oliveira Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Caroline Pietta-Dias Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil




Sport medicine, Health, Transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS, Exercise, Binge eating


Introduction: Binge eating disorder (BED) is closely associated with obesity, characterized by the repeated consumption of large amounts of food accompanied by a feeling of loss of control during the episode of binge eating. Existing treatments are moderately effective with high rates of recurrence; thus, physical exercise and neuromodulation techniques have emerged with positive potential associated with self-control in reward brain regions. Objective: To investigate whether 20 sessions of transcranial direct current (tDCS) stimulation alone or combined with aerobic exercise (AE) could reduce food consumption and the perception of hunger and satiety in adult individuals with BED. Methods: Adult individuals with BED were included in a randomized, double-blind study. Participants received 20 sessions according to random randomization (1) active tDCS, (2) placebo and AE tDCS or (3) active tDCS and AE, simultaneously with videos of foods that cause fissures, such as sweets and fast foods. tDCS was applied at 2mA / 20 min, with the anode over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the cathode over the contralateral supraorbital region (Soterix Medical®). The AE was performed on a treadmill after tDCS, at an intensity of 60-65% of HRmax, repeating the evaluations at the end. Primary outcomes included measures of food intake and perceptions of hunger, satiety and desire. Secondary outcomes were assessed through body composition, biochemical markers (lipid, glycaemic and leptin profile) and maximum oxygen consumption. Results: The tDCS group had lower values of triglycerides and lean mass compared to the other groups. However, in relation to food intake, hunger, satiety throughout the day, and uncontrollable desire to eat, there was no difference between the groups. Conclusions: tDCS alone was able to improve more clinical outcomes such as adipose mass and triglycerides. To our knowledge, to date this is the first study to demonstrate that the association of tDCS with aerobic exercise can improve the symptoms of binge eating in the investigated population. Test record: ReBEC identifier RBR-3d8fd2.


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Effects of transcranial continuous current stimulation (tDCS) associated with aerobic exercise in the treatment of food compulsion: A randomized clinical trial



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How to Cite

Artifon, M., Mayer Tossi, G., Griebler, N., Schestatsky, P., Boeno, F., Moritz, C., Lopes Teodoro, J., Beraldo, L., Naomi Adachi, L., Reischak de Oliveira, Álvaro, & Pietta-Dias, C. (2023). Effects of transcranial continuous current stimulation (tDCS) associated with aerobic exercise in the treatment of food compulsion: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 19(2), 436–450. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2024.192.01



Sport Medicine, Nutrition & Health