Facts You Should Know About the Binge Eating Disorder

Facts You Should Know About the Binge Eating Disorder

The binge eating disorder is not the same as overeating, it is less common but more severe.

Binge eating disorder or BED refers to a condition that drives a person to experience frequent moments when he very quickly eats big quantities of food up to the point of feeling uncomfortable.

Individuals who have a BED usually do not vomit after binge eating.

About 50 percent of individuals with BED are obese or overweight.

What is the difference between BED and Overeating?

BED is a condition that is so different from overeating.

BED is often correlated to having psychological and physical problems, which is not so with overeating.

When bingeing, a person with BED lose control of himself or herself. It appears that he or she cannot stop eating. Any control over the amount or type of food eaten is lost.

After bingeing, the person feels guilty, embarrassed and disgusted. Sometimes, he or she may even use bingeing to cover-up this uncontrolled behavior.

Individuals with BED do not just lose control over their eating, they may also find it difficult to do their personal stuff or work.

According to estimates, there are about 80 percent of BED patients who have at least one more psychiatric disorder.

How Common is BED?

The National Eating Disorders Association identifies BED as the most prevalent eating disorder in America.

Many more people have BED compared to anorexia, bulimia or other popular eating disorders.

Approximately 3.5 percent of female Americans and 2 percent of male Americans will get BED.

It is typical for BED to appear during a person’s early adulthood; the average onset age is 23. However, a person can develop this eating disorder any time.

What Causes BED?

No one clearly knows what causes BED.

However, it may be triggered by genetic, social and psychological factors, just like the other eating disorders.

What are the Risk Factors for BED?

A history of depression or anxiety, dieting in unhealthy ways like skipping meals and having painful experiences as a child are some of the risk factors for BED.

What are the Symptoms of BED?

A telltale sign of BED is having frequent binge eating episodes. The frequency is typically once a week in three months time at least.

Characteristics that People with BED Exhibit

When binge eating, a person does three or more of these things:

Eats faster than normal
Eats up to the point of feeling too full for comfort
Eats a lot even when not really hungry
Eats alone to hide embarrassment about eating a lot
Feels guilty, disgusted or depressed after eating

The following are other behavioral, physical and emotional characteristics that people with BED display:
Being secretive when it comes to food i.e. hiding, hoarding or stealing food
Before bingeing, feels angry, anxious, worthless or shameful
Feels disgusted with his or her body size
Perfectionist or controlling tendencies

What is the Treatment for BED?

If you know that you have BED, consult a specialist, a psychologist or psychiatrist, that specializes in eating disorder.

The treatment for a Binge Eating Disorder includes several options.


The patient will undergo counseling. The “talk therapy” aims to reduce or get rid of binges along with the related unwanted feelings.


Drugs that are used for treating depression can also be used for treating BED. Examples are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.

Weight Loss Therapy

BED patients who are obese or overweight can undergo nutrition counseling and follow a programmed diet and exercise regimen to lose weight.

Reading resources
Binge Eating Disorder; National Eating Disorders Association.
Binge Eating Disorder; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.
Feeding and Eating Disorders; American Psychiatric Association.
S. F. Forman (2015). “Eating disorders: Overview of epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnosis.” UpToDate.

Photo credits: Emotional Eating by Vic via Flickr, CC by 2.0

Categories: Health, Nutrition

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