Binge Eating Disorder
What is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder is an illness that involves eating a lot of food in a short
amount of time. The person with binge eating disorder feels out of control about how
much he or she eats. More food is eaten than others eat in the same amount of time,
under the same circumstances. It differs from bulimia. People with binge eating disorder
don't purge their bodies of the excess food via vomiting, laxative abuse, or diuretic
Who is affected by binge eating disorder?
People with binge eating disorder often:
Eat large amounts of food
Don't stop eating until they are uncomfortably full
Feel embarrassed by the amount of food they are eating
Have a history of weight gains and losses
Have more trouble losing weight and keeping it off than people with other serious
About 1% to 2% of the population have binge eating disorder. It's seen more often
in women than in men.
What are complications of binge eating disorder?
Complications from binge eating disorder include:
People with binge eating disorder typically eat huge amounts of food at one time — often
junk food — to reduce stress and relieve anxiety.
Guilt and depression usually follow binge eating.
People with binge eating disorder are at higher risk for depressive mood disorders,
anxiety, and substance abuse.
Biochemistry and eating disorders
To understand eating disorders, researchers have studied the central nervous and hormonal
systems. This system regulates many functions of the mind and body. It has been found
that many of the following functions may be, to some degree, disturbed in people with
Eating disorders and depression
Many people with eating disorders also appear to have depression. It is believed that
there may be a link between these 2 disorders. For example:
Research has shown that some people with binge eating disorder may respond well to
antidepressant medicine that affects serotonin function in the body.
Biochemical similarities have been discovered between people with eating disorders
and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and people with OCD often have abnormal eating
Genetic and environmental factors related to eating disorders
Eating disorders tend to run in families, and female relatives are the most often
affected. That is why genetic factors are believed to play a role in the disorders.
But, other influences, both behavioral and environmental, may also play a role. Consider
these facts from the American Psychiatric Association:
Most people with binge eating disorder are adolescent and young adult women. Yet this
disorder can also affect older women and males of any age.
People pursuing professions or activities that emphasize thinness, like modeling,
dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, and long-distance running, are more prone to this