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What is Binge Eating Disorder?


Binge eating disorder - also sometimes called emotional eating, compulsive overeating or food addiction - affects approximately three percent of all American adults, making it the most common eating disorder.

If left untreated, binge eating can result in several severe medical complications, which can result in early death. If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from binge eating disorder, it’s important he or she get diagnosed and obtain proper treatment.

What is Binge Eating?

While most of us overeat every once in a while, eating a lot of food in one sitting does not necessarily mean you have binge eating disorder. Those who suffer from this mental illness typically:

  • • Eat very quickly and until uncomfortably full
  • • Eat large quantities of food despite not being hungry
  • • Eat alone because they are embarrassed about the amount of food they intake
  • • Feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after a “binge” episode

Is Binge Eating the Same as Bulimia?

People with bulimia nervosa also binge eat. However, bulimia and binge eating are not the same eating disorder.

In the case of bulimia, people vomit, fast, exercise or use laxatives following episodes of binge eating in order to compensate or get ‘rid’ of all the extra food so that they don’t gain weight. These characteristics are not seen in those who suffer from binge eating disorder, and as a result many binge eaters are often obese or overweight.

What Complications Can Result from Binge Eating?

Complications from binge eating disorder include stress, trouble sleeping, joint pain, digestive problems and even suicide thoughts. Additionally, since binge eating can lead to obesity, other long-term medical complications can ensue including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How is Binge Eating Treated?

Treatment for binge eating disorder can include a combination of medication such as antidepressants and behavior therapy such as cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal therapy.

Source: Weight-Control Information Network