What Is Binge-eating Disorder?

Reviewed Nov 9, 2017

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Summary

  • People with binge-eating disorder eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time.
  • Binge-eating disorder is the most common type of eating disorder.

Many people eat too much now and then, such as on holidays or special occasions. And many people eat more than their bodies need to keep a healthy weight. This is a main cause of overweight and obesity. But overeating in these ways and binge-eating disorder (BED) are not the same.

What is BED?

BED is a type of eating disorder. Eating disorders involve abnormal eating behaviors. People with BED eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time, often in less than two hours. This behavior occurs at least once a week for at least three months. Stress, depressed mood, feeling badly about one’s weight or body, dieting, and even boredom can start a binge. People with BED feel compelled to keep eating, even if they feel full or want to stop. This unwanted and uncontrolled behavior is deeply troubling to people with BED.

People with BED also have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Eating much faster than normal
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating a lot of food despite not feeling hungry
  • Eating alone to avoid being embarrassed by overeating
  • Feeling disgusted, unhappy or guilty after binging

People with BED do not compensate for eating too much. So, a person with BED will not throw up, fast, or workout to make up for overeating.

How common is BED and who is affected?

BED is the most common eating disorder. It affects about one in 36 U.S. adults. BED often starts in a person’s teens or twenties, but it can start in later adulthood. Unlike other eating disorders, which mostly affect women, BED affects two men for every three women. BED equally affects people of all races.

Are people with BED overweight?

Most people with BED are overweight or obese, but it affects people of normal weight too. Importantly, most people who are overweight or obese do not have BED.

What causes BED?

Experts know very little about the cause of BED and how it happens. Like other health problems, BED is complex and has many added factors, such as:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Environment
  • Societal and cultural factors 

Research also suggests that BED tends to run in families.

BED often starts in the teen or young adult years, but loss-of-control eating and binge eating can be seen children. Experts think that these behaviors may be early signs of BED in some people.

What is the outlook for people with BED?

Treatment can help people with BED gain control of eating, develop healthy eating behaviors, and have a healthier outlook about their body and self-image. Talk therapy is a proven method that is widely used. It can address BED, from changing unwanted behaviors, to managing stress, to overcoming interpersonal problems. Medicine is sometimes used in a treatment plan, mostly in people with BED who also have low spirits or other mental health problems. Learning how to make healthy food choices and become physically active also plays a role in treatment.

I’ve never heard of BED. Is it new?

Mental health experts have long known about BED and how widespread it is. But BED wasn’t officially recognized as an eating disorder until 2013, with the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. This book sets up the criteria that is used to spot mental disorders, as well as BED. This official recognition is important because it means that experts agree that BED is a real disorder and its symptoms are reason to seek help. Also, more insurance companies will cover treatment for BED. Official recognition will lead to more research on BED, which in time, could show new or better ways to treat and stop it.
 
Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; "The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication," by James Hudson et al. in Biological Psychology 2007;61:348-58.
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People with binge-eating disorder eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time.
  • Binge-eating disorder is the most common type of eating disorder.

Many people eat too much now and then, such as on holidays or special occasions. And many people eat more than their bodies need to keep a healthy weight. This is a main cause of overweight and obesity. But overeating in these ways and binge-eating disorder (BED) are not the same.

What is BED?

BED is a type of eating disorder. Eating disorders involve abnormal eating behaviors. People with BED eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time, often in less than two hours. This behavior occurs at least once a week for at least three months. Stress, depressed mood, feeling badly about one’s weight or body, dieting, and even boredom can start a binge. People with BED feel compelled to keep eating, even if they feel full or want to stop. This unwanted and uncontrolled behavior is deeply troubling to people with BED.

People with BED also have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Eating much faster than normal
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating a lot of food despite not feeling hungry
  • Eating alone to avoid being embarrassed by overeating
  • Feeling disgusted, unhappy or guilty after binging

People with BED do not compensate for eating too much. So, a person with BED will not throw up, fast, or workout to make up for overeating.

How common is BED and who is affected?

BED is the most common eating disorder. It affects about one in 36 U.S. adults. BED often starts in a person’s teens or twenties, but it can start in later adulthood. Unlike other eating disorders, which mostly affect women, BED affects two men for every three women. BED equally affects people of all races.

Are people with BED overweight?

Most people with BED are overweight or obese, but it affects people of normal weight too. Importantly, most people who are overweight or obese do not have BED.

What causes BED?

Experts know very little about the cause of BED and how it happens. Like other health problems, BED is complex and has many added factors, such as:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Environment
  • Societal and cultural factors 

Research also suggests that BED tends to run in families.

BED often starts in the teen or young adult years, but loss-of-control eating and binge eating can be seen children. Experts think that these behaviors may be early signs of BED in some people.

What is the outlook for people with BED?

Treatment can help people with BED gain control of eating, develop healthy eating behaviors, and have a healthier outlook about their body and self-image. Talk therapy is a proven method that is widely used. It can address BED, from changing unwanted behaviors, to managing stress, to overcoming interpersonal problems. Medicine is sometimes used in a treatment plan, mostly in people with BED who also have low spirits or other mental health problems. Learning how to make healthy food choices and become physically active also plays a role in treatment.

I’ve never heard of BED. Is it new?

Mental health experts have long known about BED and how widespread it is. But BED wasn’t officially recognized as an eating disorder until 2013, with the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. This book sets up the criteria that is used to spot mental disorders, as well as BED. This official recognition is important because it means that experts agree that BED is a real disorder and its symptoms are reason to seek help. Also, more insurance companies will cover treatment for BED. Official recognition will lead to more research on BED, which in time, could show new or better ways to treat and stop it.
 
Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; "The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication," by James Hudson et al. in Biological Psychology 2007;61:348-58.
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People with binge-eating disorder eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time.
  • Binge-eating disorder is the most common type of eating disorder.

Many people eat too much now and then, such as on holidays or special occasions. And many people eat more than their bodies need to keep a healthy weight. This is a main cause of overweight and obesity. But overeating in these ways and binge-eating disorder (BED) are not the same.

What is BED?

BED is a type of eating disorder. Eating disorders involve abnormal eating behaviors. People with BED eat more than a normal amount of food in a small amount of time, often in less than two hours. This behavior occurs at least once a week for at least three months. Stress, depressed mood, feeling badly about one’s weight or body, dieting, and even boredom can start a binge. People with BED feel compelled to keep eating, even if they feel full or want to stop. This unwanted and uncontrolled behavior is deeply troubling to people with BED.

People with BED also have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Eating much faster than normal
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating a lot of food despite not feeling hungry
  • Eating alone to avoid being embarrassed by overeating
  • Feeling disgusted, unhappy or guilty after binging

People with BED do not compensate for eating too much. So, a person with BED will not throw up, fast, or workout to make up for overeating.

How common is BED and who is affected?

BED is the most common eating disorder. It affects about one in 36 U.S. adults. BED often starts in a person’s teens or twenties, but it can start in later adulthood. Unlike other eating disorders, which mostly affect women, BED affects two men for every three women. BED equally affects people of all races.

Are people with BED overweight?

Most people with BED are overweight or obese, but it affects people of normal weight too. Importantly, most people who are overweight or obese do not have BED.

What causes BED?

Experts know very little about the cause of BED and how it happens. Like other health problems, BED is complex and has many added factors, such as:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Environment
  • Societal and cultural factors 

Research also suggests that BED tends to run in families.

BED often starts in the teen or young adult years, but loss-of-control eating and binge eating can be seen children. Experts think that these behaviors may be early signs of BED in some people.

What is the outlook for people with BED?

Treatment can help people with BED gain control of eating, develop healthy eating behaviors, and have a healthier outlook about their body and self-image. Talk therapy is a proven method that is widely used. It can address BED, from changing unwanted behaviors, to managing stress, to overcoming interpersonal problems. Medicine is sometimes used in a treatment plan, mostly in people with BED who also have low spirits or other mental health problems. Learning how to make healthy food choices and become physically active also plays a role in treatment.

I’ve never heard of BED. Is it new?

Mental health experts have long known about BED and how widespread it is. But BED wasn’t officially recognized as an eating disorder until 2013, with the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. This book sets up the criteria that is used to spot mental disorders, as well as BED. This official recognition is important because it means that experts agree that BED is a real disorder and its symptoms are reason to seek help. Also, more insurance companies will cover treatment for BED. Official recognition will lead to more research on BED, which in time, could show new or better ways to treat and stop it.
 
Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; "The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication," by James Hudson et al. in Biological Psychology 2007;61:348-58.
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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