Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of overeating in a rapid manner, when not hungry and often until extreme fullness. There is a sense of lack of control over eating during an episode, where the individual feels that they cannot stop eating or control what or how much they are eating. Binge eating episodes are marked by significant distress followed by feelings of shame, guilt, and depression. It occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months. Individuals with BED do not typically use inappropriate or unhealthy weight control behaviors such as fasting or purging to counteract the binges.

According to the Binge Eating Disorder Association, “Although those with Binge Eating Disorder are more likely than average to be of higher weight, anyone at any weight may struggle with the disorder. For those at higher weights, the presence of cultural weight stigma and bullying experiences may contribute to a greater degree to the development of Binge Eating Disorder, as well as co-occurring mood disorders and addictions.”

An estimated 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30% to 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder. BED is the most common eating disorder among U.S. adults and affects three times the number of those diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa combined.

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria

  1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by BOTH of the following:
    1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
    2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
  2. The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    1. Eating much more rapidly than normal
    2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    4. Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
    5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
  3. Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  4. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  5. The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (for example, purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

Warning Signs

(May Include)

  • Eating large quantities of food
  • Sense of lack of control over eating
  • Eating until uncomfortably/painfully full
  • Weight gain/fluctuations
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and disgust
  • Self-medicating with food
  • Eating alone/secretive eating
  • Hiding food
  • High levels of anxiety and/or depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of compensatory behaviors

Health Complications

(May Include)

  • Type II Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lipid abnormalities (Including increased cholesterol)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • Chronic kidney problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Sleep apnea

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