Binge Eating

Learn About Binge Eating

Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) involves episodes of consuming unusually large amounts of food. Overeating on occasion, such as holidays, is normative. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binging, and if such binges become a rather regular occurrence, they may constitute Binge Eating Disorder.

People with Binge Eating Disorder usually have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating when neither full nor hungry
  • Consuming food rapidly during a binge
  • Eating past being full, even to the point of discomfort
  • Binging in secret
  • Feeling that eating is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or otherwise upset about binging
  • Feeling depressed and anxious

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of the eating disorders, affecting adults at about 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men. Further, about 1.6 percent of adolescents may also be affected. People with obesity are at a higher risk for developing the disorder; about 2 in 3 people who have the disorder are obese, but people of normal weight can also have binge eating disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder may result from a mix of genetic, psychological, emotional, social, and other factors. Binge Eating Disorder has been linked to depression and anxiety. People with Binge Eating Disorder should get help from a specialist in eating disorders, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Treatment may include the use of behavior change therapy, counseling on eating patterns, and/or medication. The goal is to change the thoughts and beliefs that lead to binge eating and promote healthy eating and physical activity habits. Support groups may also be a good source of encouragement, hope, and advice on coping with the disorder.

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