What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

By Steve Bressert, Ph.D.

People with binge eating disorder feel both emotionally and physically out of control of their eating. Consequently, remorse and emotional anguish are common. Unlike the patient with bulimia, the binge eater does not compensate after a binge by overexercising, vomiting or fasting.

Binge eating disorder typically involves:

  • repeating episodes of binge eating
  • eating more in a given amount of time than other people would eat during that same period of time
  • feeling as if you can’t stop eating
  • eating alone because you are ashamed about how much food you eat
  • feeling disgusted with yourself; feeling depressed or guilty after overeating
  • episodes of binge eating, associated with at least three of the following:
    • eating faster than you would normally eat
    • eating more than you would normally eat
    • eating until you feel very full or even ill
    • eating even after you are satisfied

How common is binge eating disorder?

Nearly 2 percent of the American population has binge eating disorder. That would mean as many as five million Americans could suffer from binge eating disorder at any one time.

As many as 30 percent of the people with obesity who are seeking help for their weight may be suffering from binge eating disorder. Seven in ten people at Overeaters Anonymous are thought to be binge eaters. Untreated binge eating may be the reason that many people are unsuccessful in their attempts to lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Who gets binge eating disorder?

Men and women are binge eaters in almost equal numbers. There are about three female binge eaters for every two male binge eaters.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder generally begin when someone is in their 20s. She will seek treatment in her 30s.

Binge eating disorder appears to affect whites in equal numbers as non-whites, and affluent people as well as middle-class people. It has not been well studied among lower socioeconomic groups.

The problem with binge eating

In a typical binge eating, a person can eat several thousand calories in one sitting. The foods are generally low protein, high fat and high carbohydrate. Binge eaters will describe eating last night’s leftovers as well as slices of cakes, cookies, chips and even raw cake batter! Imagine doing that a few times a week. All that food adds up to several pounds of unhealthy weight each month.

 

APA Reference
Bressert, S. (2006). What Is Binge Eating Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-binge-eating-disorder/00098
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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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