Research Publications

The publications and presentations below describe the results that members of the Bright Line Eating community have achieved.


As you are most likely aware, one of the things that most sets Bright Line Eating® apart is its deep grounding in scientific research. Susan Peirce Thompson’s background is as a tenured psychology professor and her PhD is in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a cutting-edge and highly interdisciplinary field. She is committed to regularly conveying important and relevant research findings to you, through the weekly vlog and other communications.

But we also conduct our own research. In fact, we have maintained a research program from the very beginning of BLE—and that program has grown and evolved over time. Today, Dr. Thompson and two other accomplished social scientists, Jeanne Hurlbert, PhD and Win Guan, PhD, lead that program. Together we gather data from all of the Bright Line Eating programs so we can document your journeys and celebrate your results.

On this page, we want to share those research results with you. After all, what we value most here at Bright Line Eating is YOU AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. Below, you’ll find publications and presentations that describe the results that members of our wonderful community have achieved.

Please keep your eye out for new research!

With love,
The BLE Research Team

Monthly Research Participant Gift Card Winners

  • Mar 2022 – Jana Allen (OR, USA)
  • Feb 2022 – Flora C. (AZ, USA)
  • Jan 2022 – Sandra K. (OH, USA)
  • Dec 2021 – Sally B. (TX, USA)
  • Nov 2021 – Sandra G. (NY, USA)
  • Oct 2021 – Sandra A. (NC, USA)
  • Sep 2021 – Terra S. (WA, USA)
  • Aug 2021 – Monica W. (AL, USA)
  • Jul 2021 – Katie D. (CT, USA)
  • Jun 2021 – Mindy B. (UT, USA)
  • May 2021 – Sharon D. (OH, USA)
    Apr 2021 – Monique S. (CA, USA)
  • Mar 2021 – Ingrid T. (Alberta, Canada)
  • Feb 2021 – Danielle B. (ID, USA)
  • Jan 2021 – Susannah S. (CO, USA)
  • Dec 2020 – Sheila T. (OH, USA)
  • Nov 2020 – Katie T. (TX, USA)
  • Nov 2020 – Audalyn V. (MO, USA)
    Oct 2020 – Jo Lisa B. (FL, USA)
    Sep 2020 – Janeal H. (UT, USA)
    Aug 2020 – Katherine H. (ON, Canada)
  • Jul 2020 – Linda P. (CO, USA)
  • Jun 2020 – Kim T. (FL, USA)
  • May 2020 – Chris G. (AZ, USA)
  • Apr 2020 – Teresa S. (AZ, USA)
  • Mar 2020 – Becky J. (WI, USA)
  • Feb 2020 – Kassie B. (BC, Canada)
  • Jan 2020 – Kristin K. (CA, USA)
  • Dec 2019 – Rene N. (BC, Canada)
  • Nov 2019 – Laurie M. (ON, Canada)
    Oct 2019 – Cathy S. (MO, USA)
    Sep 2019 – Claudia B. (FL, USA)
    Aug 2019 – Marcy D.. (CO, USA)
  • Jul 2019 – Angela W. (ON, Canada)
  • Jun 2019 – LeeAnn T. (MS, USA)
  • May 2019 – Viola M. (CA, USA)
  • Apr 2019 – Mary G. (FL, USA)
  • Mar 2019 – Katie K. (BC, Canada)
  • Jan 2019 – Tara O. (AB, Canada)
  • Dec 2018 – Patricia S. (CA, USA)
  • Nov 2018 – Julie L. (MI, Canada)
    Oct 2018 – Elisabeth C. (NC, USA)
    Sep 2018 – Michelle A. (TX, USA)

Bright Line Eating: A Two-year Follow-up Evaluation of a Commercial Telehealth Weight Loss Program within an Abstinence-Based Food Addiction Framework

Published in the Journal of Nutrition and Weight Loss on May 25, 2021

  • Authors:
    Susan P. Thompson, PhD
  • Andrew K. Thaw, PhD 
  • Mark G. Goetting, MD
  • Win Guan, PhD

The current study evaluates two-year weight outcomes for participants of the Bright Line Eating: Boot Camp program (BLE:BC), a weight management program that teaches participants to abstain from sugar and flour within a food addiction framework.

Data come from participants in the BLE:BC Follow-up Research Program. Participants were invited to complete monthly follow-up surveys. First, we examined primary outcomes of percent weight loss (%WL) and change in body mass index (BMI) for participants who completed both the BLE:BC program and at least one followup survey. Next, we examined %WL and BMI change only among participants who completed all surveys.
An independent samples analysis showed that, at the time of each follow-up survey (6, 12, 18, and 24 months), participants reported clinically significant weight loss (>5%WL) from baseline. Weight loss at each followup was significantly greater than at the end of the BLE:BC program (>7.9%WL). Among participants who completed all surveys (n=238), weight loss was higher among participants enrolled in the Bright Lifers continuity program at 12, 18, and 24 months. At the 24-month follow-up, participants enrolled in the Bright Lifers program experienced an average 15.3%WL and a 5.0 reduction in BMI.
A rigorous evaluation of the efficacy of commercial weight loss programs remains imperative. As research on the construct of food addiction in humans’ increases, evaluating treatment approaches becomes increasingly important. Although the generalizability of the current study is limited due to selection bias and sample homogeneity, this study contributes significant findings to the literature showing sustained, long-term weight loss among participants in the BLE:BC program.

Psychosocial Outcomes of a Commercial Weight Loss Program During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication and Presentation at the Society of Behavioral Medicine 2021 Conference

  • Authors:
    Win Guan, PhD
  • Susan P. Thompson, PhD
  • Jeanne Hurlburt, PhD 
Research shows significant changes in psychosocial outcomes for participants in weight loss programs. As the popularity of commercial weight loss programs increases, so does the need to assess the impact of these programs on participants’ psychosocial outcomes. This study asks if and how participating in the Bright Line Eating: Boot Camp (an 8-week commercial weight loss program) during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with changes in participants’ psychosocial outcomes.
Participants were included in the study if they (a) lived in the United States; (b) enrolled in the BLE:BC program on or after September 1, 2019; (c) completed the BLE:BC by September 1, 2020; and (d) completed both pre- and post-program surveys. We use the pre- and post- surveys to measure change in self-reported quality of life, depressed mood, social support, energy level, and number of poor mental health days. We report the weekly average change in each psychosocial outcome across time.
Participants in the study (n=751) were predominantly white (92.4%), female (89.7%), and well-educated (75.2% had a college degree or higher). On average, BLE:BC participants experienced improvements in quality of life (spearman’s rho=0.45; p< 0.000), energy level (spearman’s rho=0.50; p< 0.000), number of poor mental health days (t=13.53; p< 0.000), depressed mood (t=11.9; p< 0.000), and social support (t=8.78; p< 0.000). But in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States (March, April, and May of 2020), the magnitude of change for each outcome was significantly greater than it was during the months prior to the pandemic and during the later months of the pandemic.
Improvements in psychosocial outcomes from the Bright Line Eating: Boot Camp were significantly greater during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic than they were either before or after this period. Further research is necessary to explore the mechanisms for these patterns.

Bright Line Eating: Efficacy Across Age in a Commercial Weight Loss Program Using a Food Addiction Model

Publication and Presentation at the American Society of Nutrition 2021

  • Authors:
    Win Guan, PhD
  • Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD
  • Jeanne Hurlbert, PhD 

As individuals age, they become more susceptible to developing weight-related obesity comorbidities–which makes weight loss and weight maintenance key issues in older age groups. Prior research on the efficacy of weight loss programs across age groups has yielded inconsistent results. The Bright Line Eating (BLE) program, which follows a food addiction model that emphasizes abstinence from added sugars and processed flours, has been shown to be effective for weight loss and weight maintenance. This study builds on that research to assess age-related differences in the efficacy of the BLE program.

Participants in this study (n=4,509; 93.9% white; 95.6% female; 29.6% overweight, 58.2% obese at baseline) attended an 8-week BLE Boot Camp program and completed pre- and post-program surveys that measured demographic characteristics, anthropometrics, and psychosocial factors. We used two-way ANOVA to assess the effect of age on percent weight loss from baseline (%WL) while accounting for race, gender, and program adherence. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of age on improvement in quality of life, energy level, and life satisfaction.

Participants experienced 6.5 %WL (SD=5.2) with no significant difference across age groups (F=1.5, p=0.15). After completing the BLE Boot Camp program, 54.3% reported improved quality of life, 46.6% reported higher energy levels, and 60.4% described increased life satisfaction. Percent weight loss was associated with improvements in all of psychosocial factors that we examined (z=13.8, p<.000; z=13.5, p<.000; z=12.4, p<.000). Older study participants were more likely than younger to see an increase in energy level (z=2.8, p=0.01). 

This evaluation of the BLE Boot Camp program demonstrated its success across all adult age groups. These results are particularly encouraging, given the need for feasible and scalable weight loss interventions that have been shown to be effective across all demographic groups.


Changes in Hunger and Craving in an 8-Week Commercial Weight Loss Program Using a Food Addiction Framework

Publication and Presentation at the American Society of Nutrition 2020

  • Authors:
    Win Guan, PhD
  • Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD
  • Andrew K. Thaw, PhD 

Commercial weight loss programs continue to target modifiable obesity risk factors, including physical activity and nutrition. However, the impact of these commercial programs on individuals’ levels of hunger and food cravings has rarely been reported. Given the associations among hunger, food cravings, caloric intake, and long-term adherence to a particular way of eating, it is important to rigorously examine changes in hunger and cravings among participants in these programs. The present study examines changes in hunger and food cravings among participants in Bright Line Eating: Boot Camp (BLE: BC), an 8-week telehealth commercial weight loss program.

Data come from 10 weekly surveys (including a program baseline and ending survey) completed by n = 1208 individuals enrolled and completed the BLE: BC program between September 2018 and November 2019. This time-frame was selected as a result of the availability of data on daily levels of hunger and food cravings. We focus on the primary outcome variables of hunger and food cravings measured through weekly self-reported survey data. In addition to examining trends in hunger and cravings over the course of the BLE: BC, we also stratified the primary outcomes by baseline weight status.

Participants in the present study were predominantly white (93.2%), female (95.6%), and of high socioeconomic status. We used ANOVA tests to examine variation in hunger and food cravings at baseline and change from baseline to program completion. Baseline levels of hunger and food cravings were higher among participants who were at a higher baseline weight status (F = 16.4, P < .001). On average, participants experienced significant reductions in hunger and food cravings from baseline to program completion (P < .001). Participants who began the program at a higher body mass index experienced greater reductions in their levels of hunger and food cravings (F = 13.3, P < .001).

Changes in hunger and food cravings constitute important components of success in commercial weight loss programs. The present study reports daily self-reported levels of hunger and food cravings for participants enrolled in an 8-week telehealth commercial weight loss program. The results show significant reductions in hunger and cravings among BLE: BC program participants.


Bright Line Eating: Evaluation of a Commercial Telehealth Weight Loss and Management Program

Published in the Journal of Nutrition and Weight Loss on November 16, 2018

  • Authors:
    Win Guan, PhD
  • Andrew K. Thaw, PhD 
  • Sabrina N. Grondhuis 
  • Andi Schaechter

This study assesses the effectiveness of the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp (BLE: BC), an eight-week
telehealth weight management program.

Data come from participants in the BLE: BC research program. The final sample (n=5,374) contained primarily white adults (92.8%), females (95.2%), and individuals who reported high socioeconomic status (96.0% had completed at least some college and 47.4% reported an annual family income of at least $100,000). We focus in this manuscript on the primary outcomes of percent weight loss and change in body mass index from baseline. Secondary outcomes include program satisfaction and perceptions of healthy eating.

Approximately 95% of participants lost weight between baseline and completion of the BLE: BC. During the eight weeks, average percent weight loss was 7.8 (SD=7.5) and body mass index declined by an average of 2.6 (SD=2.3). Spearman’s correlation tests show that participants who reported expending more effort and participating more in the program reported greater percent weight loss (rs=0.39, p<0.001 and rs=0.34, p<0.001, respectively) and larger reduction in body mass index (rs=0.36, p<0.001 and rs=0.33, p<0.001, respectively). The majority of participants (88.6%) reported being satisfied with the program and 90.4% reported that healthy eating became easier.

The results of this study support the efficacy of the BLE: BC as a fully online, telehealth weight loss program. Future studies should assess the long-term weight loss and maintenance of BLE: BC participants and endeavor to specify mechanisms for the observed weight change. Although we acknowledge limitations in generalizability of the results due to the lack of a comparison group and selection bias in the sample, the results show clinically-significant weight loss among the majority of BLE: BC participants.

Evaluation of a Commercial Telehealth Weight Loss and Management Program

Presentation at The Obesity Society’s ObesityWeek 2018

  • Authors:
    Mark G. Goetting, MD
    Win Guan, PhD
    Andrew K. Thaw, PhD
    Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD
The design of weight loss programs has been shown to significantly affect the weight maintenance phase by exacerbating, reducing, or delaying weight regain. There is a growing recognition of the addictive-like qualities of some processed foods. Bright Line Eating (BLE) is a convenient and affordable novel telehealth weight loss program based on a processed food addiction framework that provides comprehensive tools for lifetime weight maintenance including continuous live peer support via private online chat groups. The present study describes weight loss outcomes in the initiation phase of the BLE Boot Camp (BC) program, an 8 week on-line course providing comprehensive teaching and behavioral/emotional support.
Data are from the baseline and exit surveys of participants of the BLE:BC program. The sample (n=3,280) includes those who 1) were overweight or obese (BMI≥25) at baseline, 2) chose to participate in the BLE Research and 3) completed both surveys. This sample represents 16.2% those who enrolled in BLE:BC, 41.0% of those who enrolled in BLE Research, and 42.7% of those who completed a baseline survey. Percent weight loss (%WL) and body mass index (BMI) were calculated using self-reported weight and height from both surveys.
The sample contained mostly white women (95.3% female, 92.6% white). Women had a mean baseline weight and BMI of 91.2 kg (SD=18.6) and 34.1 (SD=7.0), respectively. Men had a mean baseline weight of 108.3 kg (SD=26.0) and BMI of 35.3 (SD=8.4). Over 95% of participants lost weight. Among those, participants averaged 9.0%WL (p<.001) and 3.1 decrease in BMI (p<.001). No significant differences were found for age, sex, or race.
BLE produces initial weight loss similar to other intensive programs. The convenience and affordability make it an attractive approach for those who may benefit from food addiction therapy or other intensive weight loss needs. Long term data are being analyzed.

Bright Line Eating: An Effective, Online Program for Sustained Weight Loss

Andrew K. Thaw, PhD
Carley J. Thaw, PhD

Obesity remains a pervasive preventable disease. Numerous weight loss options are available, however, few programs report even modest sustained weight loss. Here, we describe results from the Bright Line Eating program (BLE). BLE is a recently developed web-based weight loss program. The core principles of BLE consist of following clear, unambiguous boundaries referred to as bright lines. The four Bright Lines are: Sugar, Flour, Meals, and Quantities. Specifically, (1) no sugar consumption (2) no flour consumption, (3) eating 3 meals per day with no snacking, (4) weighing and measuring meals. BLE also contains a unique and comprehensive support mechanism based on 12-step programs.

Data from the BLE participant registry was analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the program to lead to sustained weight loss. Here we describe the findings from participants who have been voluntarily reporting their weight loss for up to two years while participating in the BLE program.
Results show a sustained significant weight loss that is maintained for greater than 12 months for 90% of program participants. This represents a dramatically high rate of sustainable weight loss. Subsequently, BMI and waist circumference were also reduced. The sustained weight loss is correlated with specific components of the BLE program. For example, 90% of the respondents indicated that eliminating processed sugar from their diet was integral to their success. Adherence (remaining active in the program) also showed a strong correlation with sustained weight loss (25 pounds versus 3 pounds sustained weight loss for those with high adherence versus low adherence respectively). Other possible factors such as age or gender do not seem to be affecting sustained weight loss.
Initial results from the BLE program provide evidence of sustainable weight loss. Further analysis of BLE data will aim to determine positive health effects related to the program.

Bright Line Eating: A Novel Web-based Weight Loss Program

Andrew K. Thaw, PhD

Obesity continues to be one of the most prevalent preventable diseases affecting persons from all backgrounds and geographic regions. Numerous commercial or free weight loss programs are now available to consumers via web-based platforms. This paper describes a recently developed web-based weight loss and weight maintenance program designed with a unique and comprehensive support mechanism for participants.
The Bright Line Eating program has been tailored to address a variety of issues related to excess food consumption, including such challenging behaviors as food addiction. The program consists of an 8-week long instructional period, combined with several levels of support in the form of information, food plans, behavior change, phone or internet based discussions, and recorded materials, to promote weight loss. The program is intentionally modifiable such that anyone may participate regardless of their specific goals.
Results from 182 participants reveal a 20 pound weight loss over the 8-week instructional period. Analysis of the main programmatic tools provide insight into which aspects of this web-based program are most useful to participants. Specifically, support from the program (coaching calls, discussion groups with other participants and Bright Line Eating staff support) represented 3 of the top 5 most used tools.
Follow up studies are underway to monitor the long term weight loss of participants.

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