What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder affects two percent of the population overall and eight percent of people who are obese. It is an eating disorder in the “Not Otherwise Specified” category.

Definition

Binge eating disorder is characterized by periodic out of control food binges, but it does not include purging or overexercising to compensate for the calories ingested.

Symptoms

  • Episodes of binge eating, defined as eating an abnormally large amount of food and feeling out of control of eating, twice weekly on average for six months
  • Binges include shame about the amount ingested, eating when not hungry, rapid ingestion, and/or physical discomfort after eating
  • Episodes of binge eating cause emotional distress
  • Purging and other compensatory behaviors are not associated with binge eating disorder
  • Binge eating disorder cannot be diagnosed if one has an active diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa

Treatment

There is debate over whether it is best to treat self-esteem, depression, irrational thoughts, or obesity first. Eating regular, healthy meals and snacks to prevent hunger, removing tempting junk food or binge triggers, and learning new techniques to manage stress may all be important in overcoming binge eating disorder. Groups may also be important to address isolation and self-esteem concerns.

Prevention

There is no known prevention for binge eating disorder. Eating regular, healthy meals and snacks to prevent hunger, removing tempting junk food or binge triggers, and learning new techniques to manage stress may all help one avoid binges.

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