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Binge eating and Bulimia: Study Shows Effects More Alike Than Not


Both bulimia and binge eating disorder involve recurring episodes of excess eating accompanied by a lack of control.

Yet the assumption has been that the dysfunction caused by bulimia is greater than that caused by binge eating. Why? Bulimia involves compensating behaviors such as using laxatives or purging, and binge eating does not.

However, research reveals that when compared to populations without an eating disorder history, a lifetime history of either bulimia or binge eating showed similar swaths of dysfunction. Both disorders predict between two and four times the increase in days that individuals cannot work or perform necessary daily activities.

Low Detection and Later-Onset Problems

Both disorders frequently go undetected by physicians or other health professionals and continue untreated, and both are plagued by late-onset issues. According to senior research author Ronald Kessler:

Binge-eating disorder has been largely ignored by health care providers, but it has a tremendous cost to the physical and psychological well-being of people with the disorder. When all of the cases of the disorder are taken together, the elevated levels of depression, suicide and lost work represent substantial costs to society.

The adverse effects of each diagnosis seem to be the result of late-onset issues related to the eating disorder. For instance, both bulimia and binge-eating typically begin in adolescence but are associated with the later development of mental or physical disorders such as anxiety, depression, diabetes and musculoskeletal problems.

An early-onset binge eating diagnosis is often complicated by late-onset issues of low employment among males, low marriage rates among females, and a high instance of work disability for both sexes.

Early Detection and Treatment Suggested

Because these late-onset problems play a large part in the inability to function well, early diagnosis and treatment during an individual’s school years may help prevent the later development of physical and mental impairments that typically manifest with binge eating and bulimia.

Researchers hope to move forward with clinical trials to evaluate the long-term benefits for adult health when binge eating and bulimia are detected and treated early.

Source Science Daily